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

Example Sentences

"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 Iger was responsible for Disney’s acquisition strategy—snapping up Pixar, Marvel Entertainment, Lucasfilm, and 21st Century Fox—which helped make the company a content giant. Nicholas Gordon, Fortune, 21 Nov. 2022 Interested fans can request to book the dream vacation beginning at 1 p.m. ET on Nov. 29 here; guests are responsible for their own travel to Miami. Gil Kaufman, Billboard, 21 Nov. 2022 Ellis also said that false rhetoric and anti-LGBTQ legislation is responsible for attacks like this one on the community. Matthew Mulligan, NBC News, 21 Nov. 2022 Clearly, learning that his partner was responsible for his brother's death would be a lot to take in, but the pair has already handled so much — from Ben injuring Jen while drunk driving to Judy’s untimely death. Amy Mackelden, ELLE, 21 Nov. 2022 Musk has fired many of the company’s 7,500 full-time workers and an untold number of contractors who are responsible for content moderation and other crucial responsibilities. Alex Veiga, Anchorage Daily News, 20 Nov. 2022 Musk has fired many of the company’s 7,500 full-time workers and an untold number of contractors who are responsible for content moderation and other crucial responsibilities. Time, 20 Nov. 2022 No rules govern who is responsible for cleanup — or space-debris mitigation, as it is called — but Japan intends to play a key role in their development. Lily Kuo, Washington Post, 20 Nov. 2022 In all, methane is responsible for almost a third of the 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 degrees Fahrenheit) that global temperatures have risen since the industrial era. Jim Krane, Chron, 20 Nov. 2022 See More

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.

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 1 Dec. 2022.

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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