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 On Tuesday, the United States Senate unanimously passed legislation that could authorize the government to impose sanctions on officials responsible for human rights abuses in the territory. Steven Lee Myers, New York Times, "In Warning to Hong Kong’s Courts, China Shows Who Is Boss," 20 Nov. 2019 Jurors found Winco Powerline Services of Aurora responsible for the multimillion-dollar verdict after Travis Chiokai, 26, and Nicholas Gamalski, 27, died at the scene in southwestern Louisiana on Nov. 7, 2017. oregonlive, "Oregon company must pay $14.6 million after 2 workers dangling from helicopter rope fall to their deaths," 20 Nov. 2019 His work focuses on the responsible development and use of emerging technologies. Scientific American, "Contributors to "Top 10 Emerging Technologies of 2019"," 19 Nov. 2019 The property sale has garnered interest from a variety of organizations, including retail establishments, restaurants and office managers, said Frank Sherwood, vice president of CBRE Minneapolis, the real estate firm responsible for the sale. David Knutson, Twin Cities, "Shuttered James J. Hill Center in downtown St. Paul goes up for sale," 18 Nov. 2019 Now a panel consisting of legal experts, civil rights workers, and law enforcement specialists have been selected to review the police department responsible for her death. Tanya A. Christian, Essence, "Panelists Selected To Review The Police Department Responsible For Atatiana Jefferson’s Death," 14 Nov. 2019 The chef responsible for this delightful bar food is Buc Sau, a 72-year-old woman who immigrated to the United States in the ’80s after the fall of Saigon. Allie Wist, Bon Appétit, "Go to This Karaoke Bar for ABBA Hits and Stellar Vietnamese Food," 14 Nov. 2019 But, what responsible board changes a policy and makes it retroactive? Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: More needed to fight hazing; Keep LaRue’s name on library; Loud college games too much for animals (11/13/19," 13 Nov. 2019 Fun fact: Of the six companies responsible for the creation of HDMI, only Hitachi and Philips are not also member companies of VESA. Jon L. Jacobi, PCWorld, "HDMI vs. DisplayPort: Which display interface reigns supreme?," 13 Nov. 2019

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

23 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Responsible.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 6 December 2019.

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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

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


very cautious or careful

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