authority

noun
au·​thor·​i·​ty | \ ə-ˈthȯr-ə-tē How to pronounce authority (audio) , ȯ-, -ˈthär- \
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

Antonyms

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 The declaration gives her more authority to draw on resources to maintain city security. BostonGlobe.com, "Trump officials resign after Capitol mayhem," 7 Jan. 2021 Data has revealed that the number of COVID patients has reached a new high and authority figures expect the condition to worsen throughout the month. Brooklyn White, Essence, "The Grammy Awards Have Been Postponed To March 2021," 5 Jan. 2021 Imagine all the thunder and authority of classical music, but without balancing strings and woodwinds. Washington Post, "With the Barclay Brass, D.C. takes an outsized role in the small world of classical brass music," 4 Jan. 2021 In a pointed challenge to Mr. McConnell’s influence and authority at the outset of Congress, a dozen Senate Republicans rejected his plea to not contest the tabulating of the electoral votes in the House on Wednesday. New York Times, "Republicans Begin New Congress Feuding Over Bid to Overturn Election," 3 Jan. 2021 Much would depend on precisely how the fiscal authority and the central bank relate to each other—politically and legally—and governments’ willingness to permit accounting losses. Mike Bird, WSJ, "How the 2020 QE Boom Might Trip Up Central Bankers," 29 Dec. 2020 Haaland would be able to use executive authority to curtail, if not stop, new federal drilling, but Republicans in Congress from fossil fuel states are promising to challenge her. Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner, "Deb Haaland in no-win situation over Biden federal drilling ban," 23 Dec. 2020 Progressives and Democratic lawmakers are calling on the Biden administration to use executive authority to cancel student debt across the board. Jennifer Epstein, Bloomberg.com, "Biden Picks Connecticut Schools Chief for Education Secretary," 22 Dec. 2020 The investigation revealed a juvenile justice system lacking statewide coordination or authority. Jodi S. Cohen, ProPublica, "Judges Are Locking Up Children for Noncriminal Offenses Like Repeatedly Disobeying Their Parents and Skipping School," 22 Dec. 2020

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

Time Traveler for authority

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for authority

Last Updated

16 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Authority.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/authority. Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for authority

authority

noun
How to pronounce authority (audio)

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 How to pronounce authority (audio) \
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

Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Typeshift

Anagram puzzles meet word search.

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!