authority

noun
au·​thor·​i·​ty | \ ə-ˈthär-ə-tē, ȯ-, -ˈthȯr-\
plural authorities

Definition of authority

1a : power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior the president's authority
b : freedom granted by one in authority : right Who gave you the authority to do as you wish?
2a : persons in command specifically : government the local authorities of each state
b : a governmental agency or corporation to administer a revenue-producing public enterprise the transit authority the city's housing authority
3a : grounds, warrant had excellent authority for believing the claim
b : convincing force lent authority to the performance
4a(1) : a citation (as from a book or file) used in defense or support
(2) : the source from which the citation is drawn He quoted extensively from the Bible, his sole authority.
b(1) : a conclusive statement or set of statements (such as an official decision of a court)
(2) : a decision taken as a precedent
(3) : testimony
c : an individual cited or appealed to as an expert The prosecutor called the psychiatrist as an authority.

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for authority

Synonyms

ace, adept, artist, cognoscente, connoisseur, crackerjack (also crackajack), dab [chiefly British], dab hand [chiefly British], expert, fiend, geek, guru, hand, hotshot, maestro, master, maven (also mavin), meister, past master, proficient, scholar, shark, sharp, virtuoso, whiz, wizard

Antonyms

amateur, inexpert, nonexpert

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for authority

influence, authority, prestige, weight, credit mean power exerted over the minds or behavior of others. influence may apply to a force exercised and received consciously or unconsciously. used her influence to get the bill passed authority implies the power of winning devotion or allegiance or of compelling acceptance and belief. his opinions lacked authority prestige implies the ascendancy given by conspicuous excellence or reputation for superiority. the prestige of the newspaper weight implies measurable or decisive influence in determining acts or choices. their wishes obviously carried much weight credit suggests influence that arises from the confidence of others. his credit with the press

power, authority, jurisdiction, control, command, sway, dominion mean the right to govern or rule or determine. power implies possession of ability to wield force, authority, or influence. the power to mold public opinion authority implies power for a specific purpose within specified limits. granted the authority to manage her estate jurisdiction applies to official power exercised within prescribed limits. the bureau having jurisdiction over parks control stresses the power to direct and restrain. you are responsible for the students under your control command implies the power to make arbitrary decisions and compel obedience. the army officer in command sway suggests the extent of exercised power or influence. the empire extended its sway over the region dominion stresses sovereign power or supreme authority. given dominion over all the animals

Examples of authority in a Sentence

The boss is not popular but his authority is unquestioned. She has an air of authority. Her southern accent lent authority to her performance. We reported the incident to hospital authorities. Local authorities are investigating the accident.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Immigration advocates said the policy discouraged some sponsors from coming forward out of fear that someone in their home could be targeted by federal authorities for being in the U.S. illegally. Alicia A. Caldwell, WSJ, "A Texas Tent City for Migrant Children Is Closed," 11 Jan. 2019 The boy, identified by Guatemalan authorities as Felipe Gómez Alonzo, had been in CBP’s custody with his father, Agustin Gomez, since Dec. 18. Nomaan Merchant, The Seattle Times, "Medical checks ordered after 2nd child immigrant dies," 26 Dec. 2018 Think about that for a second: a group of strangers working together to secure a global currency and payment system without the authority of any formal institution. Morgen Peck, Glamour, "Cryptocurrency Is Not Just a Boys' Club," 11 Dec. 2018 Krippner and Forni both emphasize that Campi Flegrei’s activity is extremely closely monitored by local authorities. Mary Beth Griggs, The Verge, "An Italian volcano’s massive eruptions fit a pattern — and the cycle may have restarted," 14 Nov. 2018 So far, authorities don’t know exactly what caused them to fall at Taft Point, a scenic location where many people take photos. Megan Friedman, Country Living, "A Married Couple Died After Falling 800 Feet at Yosemite National Park," 30 Oct. 2018 Tony Kim, also known as Kim Sang Duk, 59, was a teacher at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology when detained by North Korean authorities at Pyongyang International Airport on April 22, 2017. Nicole Darrah, Fox News, "North Korea moves 3 detained Americans to hotel, reports say; Trump says 'Stay tuned!'," 2 Oct. 2018 With more on-road experience than any other competitor, Waymo used its authority to expand its services to real people, with a focus on solving transportation problems for people with disabilities, transit employees, and families. Alissa Walker, Curbed, "The good, the bad, and the ugly of self-driving cars in 2018," 27 Dec. 2018 The fisherman towed the torpedo to shore, where local government authorities took over and called in the Vietnamese Navy to inspect it. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Vietnamese Fisherman Drags a Chinese Torpedo Back to Shore," 19 Dec. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'authority.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of authority

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4a

History and Etymology for authority

Middle English auctorite, from Anglo-French auctorité, from Latin auctoritat-, auctoritas opinion, decision, power, from auctor — see author entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about authority

Statistics for authority

Last Updated

16 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for authority

The first known use of authority was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for authority

authority

noun

English Language Learners Definition of authority

: the power to give orders or make decisions : the power or right to direct or control someone or something

: the confident quality of someone who knows a lot about something or who is respected or obeyed by other people

: a quality that makes something seem true or real

authority

noun
au·​thor·​i·​ty | \ ə-ˈthȯr-ə-tē \
plural authorities

Kids Definition of authority

1 : power to exercise control
2 : a person looked to as an expert She's a leading authority on fitness.
3 : people having powers to make decisions and enforce rules and laws State authorities are investigating the disputed election.
4 : a fact or statement used to support a position What is your authority for this argument?

authority

noun
au·​thor·​i·​ty
plural authorities

Legal Definition of authority

1 : an official decision of a court used especially as a precedent
2a : a power to act especially over others that derives from status, position, or office the authority of the president also : jurisdiction
b : the power to act that is officially or formally granted (as by statute, corporate bylaw, or court order) within the scope of the treasurer's authority police officers executing a warrant…are not required to “knock and announce” their authority and purposes before enteringNational Law Journal
c : power and capacity to act granted by someone in a position of control specifically : the power to act granted by a principal to his or her agent
actual authority
: the authority that a principal in reality has granted to an agent
actual express authority
: the actual authority of an agent specifically stated or written by the principal
actual implied authority
: the actual authority of an agent that the principal has not specified but has purposely or through negligence allowed the agent to believe has been granted
apparent authority
: the authority that a principal purposely or through negligence allows a third party to believe that the principal's agent has although such authority has not in reality been granted

called also authority by estoppel, ostensible authority

Note: A principal is bound by the acts of an agent acting with apparent authority.

express authority
: authority that is explicitly granted to an agent by a principal

called also expressed authority, stipulated authority

implied authority
: the authority to perform acts that are customary, necessary, and understood by an agent as authorized in performing acts for which the principal has given express authority
ostensible authority
: apparent authority in this entry
stipulated authority
: express authority in this entry
3 : a person in a position of power and especially a public office usually used in pl. the local authorities
4a : a government agency or corporation that administers a revenue-producing public enterprise the transit authority
b : a government agency or public office responsible for an area of regulation should apply for a permit to the permitting authority

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on authority

What made you want to look up authority? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

tremendous in size, volume, or degree

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!