re·​spon·​si·​bil·​i·​ty | \ ri-ˌspän(t)-sə-ˈbi-lə-tē How to pronounce responsibility (audio) \
plural responsibilities

Definition of responsibility

1 : the quality or state of being responsible: such as
a : moral, legal, or mental accountability
2 : something for which one is responsible : burden has neglected his responsibilities

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Synonyms for responsibility


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Examples of responsibility in a Sentence

… Landau's piece, examining the fan's, and the journalist's responsibility to rock stars … — Lawrence Dietz, Los Angeles Times Book Review, 23 May 1971 A great soprano has a responsibility to her public … — Robert Evett, Atlantic, September 1970 The responsibility for engineering the line of cars which in 1908 evolved the immortal Model T … — John Kenneth Galbraith, New York Times Book Review, 28 Feb. 1954 Anthony Burton had once said that this was your responsibility toward society. — John P. Marquand, Atlantic, Nov. 1947 The boys denied any responsibility for the damage to the fence. A terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the bombing. The janitor has many responsibilities. Mowing the lawn is your responsibility. She has to deal with a lot of family and work responsibilities. It is your responsibility to give the company two weeks notice if you decide to leave. In her new position, she will have much more responsibility. We have a responsibility to protect the environment. The government's responsibility is to serve the public. The principal has responsibility for 450 students and a staff of 35.
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Recent Examples on the Web Carina De Los Santos felt a similar responsibility. Brittny Mejia, Los Angeles Times, "Dragging the family to get a COVID-19 vaccine, one arm at a time," 17 Apr. 2021 On Monday, Arradondo placed the responsibility for Floyd's death on Chauvin in his testimony using terms that were just as clear but less stark. Star Tribune, "A day-by-day recap of the Derek Chauvin murder trial," 15 Apr. 2021 Their trusting me with their story was a huge responsibility. Washington Post, "Annabelle Gurwitch wrote a book about adapting to life’s curveballs. Then the biggest curveball came.," 13 Apr. 2021 To alter the human genome seems a dramatic act, one that places a solemn responsibility on those who would commit it. Natalie De Souza, The New York Review of Books, "Editing Humanity’s Future," 13 Apr. 2021 But Air Force officials say that's the community's responsibility, not theirs. Keith Matheny, Detroit Free Press, "Air Force: PFAS left by Wurtsmith crews fighting off-base fires not our problem," 12 Apr. 2021 Baccam, a nurse by profession, moved to Iowa more than four decades ago as an 11-year-old refugee from Laos, and views voting as a sacred responsibility. Fredreka Schouten, CNN, "Republican state lawmakers push new criminal penalties for election activities," 11 Apr. 2021 That brings with it a responsibility to seek out gear that does the least harm. Matt Jancer, Wired, "How to Layer Clothes for Your Next Outdoor Adventure," 11 Apr. 2021 Making sure that women and people of color can enter burgeoning green industries means spreading out work that for decades in the United States has been, as a matter of policy, considered a domestic responsibility. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, "Care Work Is Climate Work," 9 Apr. 2021

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

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First Known Use of responsibility

1771, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for responsibility

see responsible

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Time Traveler for responsibility

Time Traveler

The first known use of responsibility was in 1771

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Statistics for responsibility

Last Updated

20 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Responsibility.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for responsibility



English Language Learners Definition of responsibility

: the state of being the person who caused something to happen
: a duty or task that you are required or expected to do
: something that you should do because it is morally right, legally required, etc.


re·​spon·​si·​bil·​i·​ty | \ ri-ˌspän-sə-ˈbi-lə-tē How to pronounce responsibility (audio) \
plural responsibilities

Kids Definition of responsibility

1 : the quality or state of being in charge of someone or something
2 : the quality of being dependable Show responsibility by always doing your homework.
3 : something or someone for which someone has charge The children are my responsibility.

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Comments on responsibility

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