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

Ben Katovsky -- currently EVP Global Rights Administration -- has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer, responsible for the key service functions contributing to the growth of the business. Wolfgang Spahr, Billboard, "BMG Promotes Ben Katovsky to COO, Ama Walton to Global General Counsel," 13 July 2018 With snowpack this year down by a third, threatening drought, the Colorado suits also allege that oil companies are responsible in part for harm brought to the local agriculture sector and to the area’s ski industry. Umair Irfan, Vox, "Why Colorado thinks it has a chance to make oil companies pay for climate change," 5 July 2018 Those responsible for the errors were fired, according to district spokesperson Tiffanie Blackmon-Jones. Breanna Edwards, The Root, "High School Valedictorian Stripped of Ranking Due to an Administrative Error, but She Thinks It's Retaliation for Critical Graduation Speech," 2 July 2018 The Mary Jane Lusby Award was presented to Alison Bent and to David Magno for their academic achievements as well as their leadership and contributions as good friends and responsible citizens. Chris Folks, Laurel Leader, "Fifth graders move on in elementary school celebration [West Laurel]," 28 June 2018 Two government orders allocate an extra 481.6 million rubles ($7.6 million) for temporary World Cup infrastructure and 334.2 million rubles ($5.3 million) to the state company responsible for maintaining the stadiums., "Russia Increases World Cup Subsidies By $13 Million," 27 June 2018 One Disney fan group was even responsible for apprehending a thief who stole a family's stroller at Disney World. Lindsey Murray, Good Housekeeping, "Facebook Is Testing a New Program That Will Charge for Access to Certain Groups," 21 June 2018 Two of the defendants were also accused of hacking computers of those responsible for administering elections, including secretaries of state. Aruna Viswanatha, WSJ, "Mueller Probe Indicts 12 Russians in Hacking of DNC and Clinton Campaign," 13 July 2018 Some are trying to be intellectually honest, in thanking those most responsible for Trump being able to shape the court: Like Harry Reid, the former Democratic Senate majority leader from Nevada. John Kass,, "How to maintain the republic? Originalist justices like Brett Kavanaugh," 10 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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Phrases Related to responsible

hold (someone) responsible

Statistics for responsible

Last Updated

31 Aug 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for responsible

The first known use of responsible was in 1643

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More Definitions for responsible



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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