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 responsible (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 The business community was solely responsible for repaying the debt, the CBIA said. Stephen Singer,, "Small businesses in Connecticut want to use federal COVID-19 relief money to pay down as much as $1 billion in unemployment insurance debt," 7 Apr. 2021 Oat milk is responsible for fewer greenhouse gases than either dairy milk or soy milk. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, "How an Oat Milk Pipeline in New Jersey Explains the Problem With Biden’s Climate Plan," 7 Apr. 2021 Research indicates that the landscaping trade is responsible for just over 80% of invasive species growing in Indiana. London Gibson, The Indianapolis Star, "Bradford pear trees are highly invasive. This is why they aren't banned in Indiana.," 7 Apr. 2021 The federal government was also responsible for supplying CVS and Walgreens for a program to vaccinate the residents and staff at nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Richard Tribou,, "Johnson & Johnson vaccine shortage cuts Florida supply next week, down nearly 270k doses," 7 Apr. 2021 The show is set in a version of modern-day London where a consortium of gangs, uneasily brought together by the Irish mobster Finn Wallace (played by Colm Meaney), is responsible for virtually all crime. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "Gangs of London Is Your Next Great Crime Watch," 7 Apr. 2021 As a member of the CNAS executive team, Scharre will be responsible for managing the center’s research agenda, publications, and research staff. Jamie Mcintyre, Washington Examiner, "Pentagon hints Biden administration may reverse Trump-era US landmine policy," 7 Apr. 2021 If these allegations are true, this group is responsible for nearly a third of Cincinnati's 13 fatal shootings since the beginning of the year. Cameron Knight, The Enquirer, "Police: One group responsible for a third of this year's fatal shootings, arrests mad," 7 Apr. 2021 An appellate court had previously ruled that Acuity was solely responsible for more than $1.5 million in damages in a decision that overturned a Waukesha County Circuit Court ruling made in January 2011. Evan Frank, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "'We won't ever forget': Thirteen years ago, a nearly 100-year-old church in downtown Oconomowoc was destroyed in an explosion," 3 Apr. 2021

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

9 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Responsible.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for responsible



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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