re·​spon·​si·​ble | \ ri-ˈspän(t)-sə-bəl How to pronounce responsible (audio) \

Definition of responsible

1a : liable to be called on to answer
b(1) : liable to be called to account as the primary cause, motive, or agent a committee responsible for the job
(2) : being the cause or explanation mechanical defects were responsible for the accident
c : liable to legal review or in case of fault to penalties
2a : able to answer for one's conduct and obligations : trustworthy
b : able to choose for oneself between right and wrong
3 : marked by or involving responsibility or accountability responsible financial policies
4 : politically answerable especially : required to submit to the electorate if defeated by the legislature used especially of the British cabinet

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Other Words from responsible

responsibleness noun
responsibly \ ri-​ˈspän(t)-​sə-​blē How to pronounce responsibly (audio) \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for responsible

responsible, answerable, accountable, amenable, liable mean subject to being held to account. responsible implies holding a specific office, duty, or trust. the bureau responsible for revenue collection answerable suggests a relation between one having a moral or legal obligation and a court or other authority charged with oversight of its observance. an intelligence agency answerable to Congress accountable suggests imminence of retribution for unfulfilled trust or violated obligation. elected officials are accountable to the voters amenable and liable stress the fact of subjection to review, censure, or control by a designated authority under certain conditions. laws are amenable to judicial review not liable for the debts of the former spouse

Examples of responsible in a Sentence

"If you all die of typhoid I won't be responsible!" he snapped. "If you die of dullness, neither will I," Helen echoed in her heart. — Virginia Woolf, The Voyage Out, 1915 I have long since ceased to cherish any spirit of bitterness against the Southern white people on account of the enslavement of my race. No one section of our country was wholly responsible for its introduction, and, besides, it was recognized and protected for years by the General Government. — Booker T. Washington, Up from Slavery, 1900, 1901 He resumed our walk with me, passing his hand into my arm. "Then when AM I going back?" I wore, in turning it over, my most responsible air. — Henry James, The Turn of the Screw, 1898 She is a very responsible worker. Is he responsible enough to have a car?
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Recent Examples on the Web In the hours after the attack, senior Mexican officials, including the mayor of Mexico City, refused to speculate on who might have been responsible. Kevin Sieff, Washington Post, "Mexico’s Jalisco New Generation Cartel blazes a bloody trail in rise to power," 10 July 2020 Given that Wallace had received death threats for pushing NASCAR to renounce the presence of the Confederate flag at its tracks, its concern for Wallace and outrage at the idea one of its own could be responsible was understandable. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Best for NASCAR, other sports leagues to ignore Trump's hateful messages," 6 July 2020 Although her son, Daniel Jr., told the teacher that a white classmate was responsible, Daniel Jr. was the one punished. oregonlive, "Portland mother and daughter duo create Black Lives Matter T-shirts," 29 June 2020 Though bars are blamed for some of the virus's spread, family gatherings, graduation parties and get-togethers at beaches and rivers are also responsible, said Chris Van Deusen, a spokesman for the Department of State Health Services. Allie Morris, Dallas News, "Texas closed bars and curbed restaurants. Will that be enough to stop the coronavirus surge?," 28 June 2020 The fireworks show will start at approximately 9:45 p.m. Have fun, but please be responsible. cleveland, "Avon Lake Public Library planning for tentative reopening: Short Takes on Avon, Avon Lake and North Ridgeville," 27 June 2020 After analyzing ash trapped in ice and other records, an international group of scientists and historians now think that an eruption of Alaska's Okmok volcano more than 2,000 years ago was responsible. Katie Hunt, CNN, "Scientists identify Alaskan volcano that may have helped the rise of the Roman Empire," 22 June 2020 Phelps promised whoever was responsible would be banned from the sport for life. Ann Killion,, "NASCAR unites behind Bubba Wallace after noose found in his garage," 22 June 2020 Whoever is responsible will face a second-degree charge of failing to stop and render aid, according to Teare. Dylan Mcguinness, Houston Chronicle, "Investigators searching for car that struck and killed bicyclist on South Loop feeder," 20 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'responsible.' 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 responsible

1643, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for responsible

Anglo-French responsable, from respuns — see response

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Time Traveler for responsible

Time Traveler

The first known use of responsible was in 1643

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Statistics for responsible

Last Updated

25 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Responsible.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for responsible


How to pronounce responsible (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of responsible

used to describe the person or thing that causes something to happen usually + for
: having the job or duty of dealing with or taking care of something or someone
: able to be trusted to do what is right or to do the things that are expected or required


re·​spon·​si·​ble | \ ri-ˈspän-sə-bəl How to pronounce responsible (audio) \

Kids Definition of responsible

1 : getting the credit or blame for acts or decisions You are responsible for the damage.
2 : reliable responsible teenagers
3 : needing a dependable person a responsible job

Other Words from responsible

responsibly \ -​blē \ adverb



Legal Definition of responsible

1a : liable to be called on to answer
b : liable to be called to account as the primary cause, motive, or agent
c : liable to legal review or in case of fault to penalties
2 : characterized by trustworthiness, integrity, and requisite abilities and resources awarded the contract to the lowest responsible bidder
3 : able to choose for oneself between right and wrong
4 : marked by or involving accountability a responsible office

Other Words from responsible

responsibility noun
responsibleness noun
responsibly adverb

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Comments on responsible

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