Synonyms & Antonyms of authority

1 a person with a high level of knowledge or skill in a field
  • the leading authority on neural anatomy

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2 lawful control over the affairs of a political unit (as a nation)
  • the sheriff had authority over the whole county

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3 the power to direct the thinking or behavior of others usually indirectly
  • speaks with a persuasive authority on matters of public health

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4 the right or means to command or control others
  • by the authority vested in me, I now pronounce you married

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5 something (as a belief) that serves as the basis for another thing
  • I had good authority to believe that the information was correct

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6 something mentioned in a text as providing related and especially supporting information
  • the Bible is the sole authority for his impassioned defense of creationism

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7 the capacity to persuade
  • a strict grammarian whose pronouncements carried plenty of authority with my third-grade English teacher

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See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About authority

How does the noun authority contrast with its synonyms?

Some common synonyms of authority are command, control, dominion, jurisdiction, power, and sway. While all these words mean "the right to govern or rule or determine," authority implies power for a specific purpose within specified limits.

granted the authority to manage her estate

When is command a more appropriate choice than authority?

While the synonyms command and authority are close in meaning, command implies the power to make arbitrary decisions and compel obedience.

the army officer in command

When would control be a good substitute for authority?

The meanings of control and authority largely overlap; however, control stresses the power to direct and restrain.

you are responsible for the students under your control

When might dominion be a better fit than authority?

The words dominion and authority can be used in similar contexts, but dominion stresses sovereign power or supreme authority.

given dominion over all the animals

When can jurisdiction be used instead of authority?

In some situations, the words jurisdiction and authority are roughly equivalent. However, jurisdiction applies to official power exercised within prescribed limits.

the bureau having jurisdiction over parks

In what contexts can power take the place of authority?

The words power and authority are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, power implies possession of ability to wield force, authority, or influence.

the power to mold public opinion

When could sway be used to replace authority?

The synonyms sway and authority are sometimes interchangeable, but sway suggests the extent of exercised power or influence.

the empire extended its sway over the region

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Time Traveler for authority

Time Traveler

The first known use of authority was in the 13th century

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Cite this Entry

“Authority.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2021.

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More from Merriam-Webster on authority

Nglish: Translation of authority for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of authority for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about authority


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