responsible

adjective

re·​spon·​si·​ble ri-ˈspän(t)-sə-bəl How to pronounce responsible (audio)
1
a
: 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
2
a
: 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
responsibleness noun
responsibly 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?
Recent Examples on the Web When the card is physically present, the bank that issued the card is responsible for the fraud loss. Emily Mason, Forbes, 15 Feb. 2024 Also present were Barbara Feinstein, deputy assistant secretary of state who is responsible for the Haiti portfolio, and Chris Landberg, deputy assistant secretary of state for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald, 15 Feb. 2024 Grossman’s lead defense attorney, Tony Buzbee, has repeatedly told jurors that Erickson is responsible for the deaths of the Iskander brothers. Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times, 15 Feb. 2024 Democrats used the debate Wednesday to remind the bill’s supporters which party was responsible for imposing the $10,000 cap. Kevin Freking, Fortune, 15 Feb. 2024 To make things even more complicated: Artists’ teams are usually responsible for all the clearances on their albums, but the money paid to the producers will usually come from a label. Elias Leight, Billboard, 15 Feb. 2024 Others appear to be alone in the world, their families dead or unreachable — raising vexing questions about who is responsible for their care, and what will happen to them when the war is over. Heba Farouk Mahfouz, Washington Post, 15 Feb. 2024 While Cliff is responsible for many of the film’s funniest moments, they are often borne out of grief. Jenelle Riley, Variety, 15 Feb. 2024 The Fed chair cannot be fired, but the president is responsible for nominating a candidate every four years for Congress’ approval. David Goldman, CNN, 2 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'responsible.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Anglo-French responsable, from respuns — see response

First Known Use

1643, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of responsible was in 1643

Dictionary Entries Near responsible

Cite this Entry

“Responsible.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/responsible. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

responsible

adjective
re·​spon·​si·​ble ri-ˈspän(t)-sə-bəl How to pronounce responsible (audio)
1
a
: being the one who must answer or account for something
the committee responsible for the job
b
: being the cause or explanation
the germ responsible for the disease
2
a
: able to meet one's obligations : reliable
a responsible citizen
b
: able to choose for oneself between right and wrong
3
: requiring a person to take charge of or be trusted with important matters
a responsible job
responsibleness noun
responsibly adverb

Legal Definition

responsible

adjective
re·​spon·​si·​ble
1
a
: 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
responsibility noun
responsibleness noun
responsibly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on responsible

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