re·spon·si·bil·i·ty | \ ri-ˌspän(t)-sə-ˈbi-lə-tē \
plural responsibilities

Definition of responsibility 

1 : the quality or state of being responsible: such as

a : moral, legal, or mental accountability

b : reliability, trustworthiness

2 : something for which one is responsible : burden has neglected his responsibilities

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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

While the morning after the election was a bleak realization for many Americans, those who attended McKissick’s pitch meeting were brought together by an overwhelming sense of responsibility. Jessi Roti,, "Feast aims to improve Chicago's food deserts through community-focused music and arts," 12 July 2018 After the deaths of the three National Socialist Underground members, a claim of responsibility subsequently mailed to media by Beate Zschaepe, now on trial in Munich, exposed myriad mistakes by investigators. Frank Jordans, The Seattle Times, "As German neo-Nazi trial ends, families demand more answers," 10 July 2018 That is the Department of Energy’s responsibility to make sure that does not happen. James Osborne, San Antonio Express-News, "Higher power costs energize coal bailout fight," 5 July 2018 Sooner or later, management itself has to start taking some responsibility, too. Mike Bianchi, Pro Soccer USA, "Here’s hoping Orlando City actually has some patience with new coach James O’Connor," 3 July 2018 Generations of lawmakers from both parties bear responsibility for allowing the drug economy to become a racket controlled by hedge funds and the Martin Shkrelis of the smaller firms. Alexander Zaitchik, The New Republic, "How Big Pharma Was Captured by the One Percent," 28 June 2018 Drivers have a greater share of the responsibility than pedestrians because drivers are the ones operating a dangerous piece of equipment, Van Houten said. Eric D. Lawrence, Detroit Free Press, "Death on foot: Distracted driving, cell phones seen as factors," 28 June 2018 The biggest thing is that right now voters need to start taking an elevated level of responsibility over our elections. Bridget Read, Vogue, "28-Year-Old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Might Just Be the Future of the Democratic Party," 25 June 2018 The result isn't a shades-of-gray spread of evildoers' responsibility. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom review: This nonsense has gone full Sharknado," 22 June 2018

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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Statistics for responsibility

Last Updated

13 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for responsibility

The first known use of responsibility was in 1771

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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 \
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

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


to deposit or conceal in a hiding place

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