re·​spon·​si·​ble | \ri-ˈspän(t)-sə-bəl \

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 \ 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

Investigators believe a person inside a white Mercedes-Benz, which later crashed and was found abandoned, was responsible. Katherine Rosenberg-douglas,, "3 vehicles shot on I-57 north in Calumet Park area, police say, but no injuries," 14 July 2018 Justin, who proposed last weekend in the Bahamas, was also responsible for selecting the engagement ring that Hailey has recently been spotted wearing. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin Showed off Matching Diamond Watches," 14 July 2018 Some studies indicate that random genetic mutations cause many cases, and no single factor may be responsible. NBC News, "Johnson & Johnson talc verdict goes against what is known about cancer," 13 July 2018 From the beginning, he was kind of seen by Robin as someone who was responsible and had a family. Patrick Ryan, USA TODAY, "HBO's Robin Williams film explores late comic's life, 'extremely difficult' final months," 13 July 2018 Probable cause requires enough evidence to convince the grand jury to have a reasonable belief that a crime was committed and that the target of the grand jury—here Conley—was responsible. Michael Mccann,, "Could Gareon Conley Legally Prove That Rape Allegation Caused Draft Slide, Financial Harm?," 12 July 2018 The teen was brought to the hospital on Tuesday after his mom – who is a nurse – suspected that the plant could be responsible, the Times-Dispatch reported. Elizabeth Zwirz, Fox News, "Giant hogweed severely burns Virginia boy, 17, sending him to hospital, report says," 12 July 2018 The person needed to be responsible, demonstrate strong attention to detail and have plants proven to still be alive. Amber Burton, WSJ, "Forget the Cat Ladies, Meet the Plant Parents," 11 July 2018 For that reason, when Stratton Oakmont sued, the court held that Prodigy was responsible. Michael Fitzgerald, WIRED, "The Court Case that Enabled Today's Toxic Internet," 8 July 2018

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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Last Updated

26 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for responsible

The first known use of responsible was in 1643

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English Language Learners Definition of responsible

: 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

: involving important duties, decisions, etc., that you are trusted to do


re·​spon·​si·​ble | \ri-ˈspän-sə-bəl \

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).


obstinately defiant of authority

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