Definition of authority in English:

authority

noun

  • 1mass noun The power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience.

    ‘he had absolute authority over his subordinates’
    ‘a rebellion against those in authority’
    • ‘That is vital if soldiers are to trust those in authority over them.’
    • ‘We have a moral centrality that places us in a position of authority over animals.’
    • ‘The relationship between children and adults is not an equal one, given that adults are physically larger and stronger and have power and authority over them.’
    • ‘Somebody in authority issued an explicit order to withdraw.’
    • ‘They have broad constitutional authority over the jurisdiction of the federal courts.’
    • ‘You may clash with somebody in authority over an important and complex matter in what could turn out to be a difficult period.’
    • ‘And this fact will, no doubt, be trumpeted as a success by those set in authority over us.’
    • ‘Why should children listen to those in authority when those in authority have mistreated them?’
    • ‘A ban is a ban and those in authority should act as strictly as they can legally to enforce it.’
    • ‘Putting him in a position of authority over her was just going to cause problems.’
    • ‘There are many jurisdictions claiming authority over the same highways.’
    • ‘His position gave him great authority over whether and how findings of the federally funded studies were disseminated.’
    • ‘There was one particular person who stood out especially since he was in authority and had a position in the church.’
    • ‘Each position in the structure has one position directly exercising authority over it.’
    • ‘Yet the port authority actually has little authority over its constituencies.’
    • ‘For conformity and submission to exist within a society, there must be a corresponding need to find security in authority and power.’
    • ‘He lied to his wife and possibly exploited his position of authority over a young intern.’
    • ‘I don't need to have someone in authority over me telling me what I can and cannot do when it comes to my religion.’
    • ‘He was given full authority over everything, including the decision about subpoenaing journalists.’
    • ‘A leader who wants power must be prepared to accept decisions made by those in authority whether they are painful or not.’
    power, jurisdiction, command, control, mastery, charge, dominance, dominion, rule, sovereignty, ascendancy, supremacy, domination
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    1. 1.1often with infinitive The right to act in a specified way, delegated from one person or organization to another.
      ‘military forces have the legal authority to arrest drug traffickers’
      • ‘The Council said it was questionable whether it had the legal authority to expend funds to provide educational services in the town.’
      • ‘Let me just say one thing first: The father has the legal and moral authority to speak for his son.’
      • ‘We are a civilian organisation and our officers have no executive powers, such as the authority to detain or arrest people.’
      • ‘If the drug is not made available as such, the act gives the government the authority to license the drug to a third party.’
      • ‘He did have delegated authority to lend up to £200,000 unsecured without seeking Head Office approval.’
      • ‘The exact nature and scope of the authority delegated must be stated in the document designating the executive agent.’
      • ‘And when I delegate responsibility, I delegate the authority to go along with it.’
      • ‘So what you really want is not freedom, you want the authority to violate the freedom of others through your local or state government.’
      • ‘Since psychologists in many provinces already have the legal authority to diagnose, this system could be easily implemented.’
      • ‘Police were also to be given the authority to search a property without a court warrant under new emergency investigation powers.’
      • ‘Universities have the authority to set fees as they wish but generally follow these guidelines.’
      • ‘The committee agreed to give planning officers delegated authority to approve the two outline schemes, subject to a number of conditions.’
      • ‘Although the recruits would not have the authority to make arrests, they would be able to offer community and crime safety advice and alert police to any incidents in the village.’
      • ‘It is our right to determine who enters the country and we democratically delegate the authority to uphold this right to the Federal government.’
      • ‘Every soldier now has the authority to find and arrest any war criminal.’
      • ‘The mayor does indeed have delegated authority to do this.’
      • ‘We can delegate the authority to train and bring up our children to someone else but never the responsibility.’
      • ‘Bring them to meetings and begin to delegate responsibility and authority to act, while you observe and coach.’
      • ‘Right now, there is no legal authority to hold such an auction.’
      • ‘When an organisation is granted the authority to dig the road and erect lights, is there not also a requirement to ensure disruption is minimised?’
      authorization, right, power, mandate, prerogative, licence
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    2. 1.2 Official permission; sanction.
      ‘the money was spent without parliamentary authority’
      • ‘You said the other night on the show, that the president doesn't need congressional authority to use these military tribunals.’
      • ‘The reason is that it is a fundamental principle that the legislature should not act or expend money without parliamentary authority.’
      • ‘And agents do not have permission and have no authority, no jurisdiction to work on Jordanian soil.’
      • ‘Yet when doing so they always sought congressional authority, even if after the fact.’
      • ‘This is why I am not reassured when the government offers that judges rather than politicians should give authority for control orders.’
      • ‘No change of the publication regime is planned, his staff discovers, and the officials involved have no authority to issue any print licenses.’
      • ‘This was a very widely drafted section which in effect made it an offence to disclose any official information without authority.’
      • ‘Lawyers reportedly told the president that he does not need congressional authority to go to war.’
      • ‘The accused approached government officials, seeking authority to leave the country.’
      • ‘These are agreements and contracts sanctioned by the authority of the state.’
      • ‘In fact, the President does not need Congressional authority to respond.’
      • ‘Liquor and Gaming Authority had ultimate authority to approve and vet every year of their operations and expenditure plan.’
      authorization, permission, consent, leave, sanction, licence, dispensation, assent, acquiescence, agreement, approval, seal of approval, approbation, endorsement, imprimatur, clearance
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  • 2often authoritiesA person or organization having political or administrative power and control.

    ‘health authorities issued a worldwide alert’
    • ‘I have a problem with authority in general and with government in particular.’
    • ‘Local health authorities have also been flooded with calls about dentists.’
    • ‘To maintain public order, the authorities instituted a regular, salaried police force.’
    • ‘The local health authority granted permission for our study, and local health staff contacted the participants.’
    • ‘They are also calling for powers to allow authorities to intervene to protect young people who are at risk from drugs.’
    • ‘The French health authorities are attempting to trace and treat those individuals in France.’
    • ‘These, then, are the various powers under which governmental authorities may act.’
    • ‘I note that the local police authority has to obtain planning permission before a flag pole can be put up at their new headquarters.’
    • ‘There was a positive obligation on a public authority to ensure proper protection of rights under the Convention.’
    • ‘Apart from the politicians and the health authorities, economists are also worried.’
    • ‘It's taken him 37 years at the authority to reach the top job, and he's delighted.’
    • ‘Last March the planning authority decided to grant permission for the development subject to 34 conditions.’
    • ‘However, a separate application had been approved by the planning authority.’
    • ‘When a political authority issues a command and the subject has a duty to obey, what is the nature of this duty?’
    • ‘Gustav never forgot this brush with authority, and he passed on his fixation with power to his youngest son.’
    • ‘Drug misuse within our community is an issue which the authorities are often accused of ignoring.’
    • ‘This sometimes manifests in what others have referred to as a ‘problem with authority.’’
    • ‘The threat of a flu epidemic is one of many problems facing scientists and public health authorities.’
    • ‘The health authorities do not seem to be taking action to stop these activities.’
    • ‘The other mine cited by the source is under the control of the French authorities.’
    • ‘The court should seek a report on the action taken by the authorities in implementing the order.’
    • ‘When the planning authority gave this permission they clearly intended to protect the amenities.’
    • ‘Both military and civil authorities moved quickly to control opinion through the press.’
    officials, officialdom, the people in charge, the government, the administration, the establishment, the bureaucracy, the system
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  • 3mass noun The power to influence others, especially because of one's commanding manner or one's recognized knowledge about something.

    ‘he has the natural authority of one who is used to being obeyed’
    • ‘A woman is permitted to chat or babble, but speaking in public with authority is still the greatest transgression.’
    • ‘I never once questioned the experts' authority or expertise about something I had lived with all my life.’
    • ‘But my enthusiasm waned slightly as I began to realise there are only so many colours that can be cited as ‘lucky’ with authority.’
    • ‘And I think he's somebody who can speak with authority about what that kind of leadership can provide.’
    • ‘He has some grounds to speak with authority about the region.’
    • ‘She had, as a talker, great force and the personal authority of someone whose opinions matter first of all to themselves and then to others.’
    • ‘Speaking with authority, intensity and enthusiasm, Scorsese proves that his greatest passion in life is film.’
    • ‘Not only did he score two excellent goals but he led the line with authority, showing great strength, and his movement into the channels to receive long passes was first class.’
    • ‘He rose quickly in an army which appreciated his soldierly presence and natural authority.’
    • ‘I cannot speak with authority about other branches of government but I can say that the most yawning gaps are in the key areas of policing and security.’
    • ‘But there is a President who has personal moral authority.’
    • ‘It is increasingly important that medical experts have real authority and expertise to retain the respect of their colleagues.’
    • ‘Nothing is further from the truth, and I write here with authority.’
    • ‘And even now, as he pushes the case for war, he is still held in high esteem overseas, a man who speaks with authority.’
    • ‘One man in particular stood out amongst them, standing with authority and giving commands to anyone who came near.’
    • ‘Its sales staff, for example, are sent on trips to its holiday destinations so they can talk with authority to potential customers.’
    • ‘The five days of the conference will, however, test his confidence and authority to the limit.’
    • ‘All I'll say is that the guy did well, he spoke with authority and at the same time, took into consideration the feelings of all concerned.’
    • ‘As I write, I cannot say with authority when the bulldozers will move onto the forty three acre site, but expect it to be sooner rather than later.’
    • ‘He writes with authority, warmth, wit and infallible scholarship.’
    • ‘I don't read any particular columnist religiously so I can't comment with authority on his philosophy.’
    power, jurisdiction, command, control, mastery, charge, dominance, dominion, rule, sovereignty, ascendancy, supremacy, domination
    influence, sway, control, leverage, power, command, weight
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    1. 3.1 The confidence resulting from personal expertise.
      ‘he hit the ball with authority’
      • ‘In this area Cullen writes with authority and knowledge.’
      • ‘When Saxon stood up he did so smoothly, with an air of authority and confidence he didn't think he'd ever possessed.’
      • ‘He controlled his goal area with confidence and authority and dealt expertly with every situation.’
      • ‘He worked on productions with supreme confidence and authority.’
      • ‘He strikes the ball around the table with great authority and confidence.’
      • ‘Down, in the opening minutes, played with authority, revelling in intricate passing movements which yielded scores.’
      • ‘He conducts his stage show with authority, moving his body in ways that keep the beat steady.’
      • ‘By walking with authority, you are less inviting for a criminal who will attempt to use control to cause harm.’
      • ‘He looked as suave as when we first dated, dressed in a sharp suit, walking with an air of confidence and authority.’
      plausibility, believability, acceptability, tenability, probability, likelihood, authoritativeness, impressiveness, cogency, weight, validity, soundness
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    2. 3.2count noun A person with extensive or specialized knowledge about a subject; an expert.
      ‘he was an authority on the stock market’
      • ‘He is an authority on medieval heraldry and a professor of history at the Sorbonne.’
      • ‘I also hate it when anyone claims to be an authority on culture.’
      • ‘Betty was also an avid reader and became an authority on Irish and local history, and family genealogy.’
      • ‘He was an authority on the history of Stamford and he lectured locally about the town.’
      • ‘Nevertheless, I feel quite confident in my ability to speak as an authority on the subject.’
      • ‘He is a local celebrity, and an authority on military history.’
      • ‘He was an authority on English and American literature with a special interest in drama.’
      • ‘I am an authority on the self-delusion of addiction.’
      • ‘My interest in the form developed late and I make no claim to being an authority on the subject.’
      • ‘He was something of an authority on its history, and was keen to share his knowledge with those wanting to learn.’
      • ‘From his undergraduate days he had been recognised as an authority on any abstract subject, and his directness of approach and candour were an inspiration to his associates.’
      • ‘Luckily, as an internet writer, I am an authority on this subject, and for once I don't mean that sarcastically.’
      • ‘What's more, I'm scarcely an authority on grammar, and I can hardly type.’
      • ‘The early Dissenters and Separatists of the late 15th century were his specialist study, and he became an authority on this subject.’
      • ‘Names are so hard to get right - and he is an authority on the subject.’
      • ‘I am still learning about this, so I am not an authority on feminist intellectualism.’
      • ‘Fortunately, the auctioneer recognised its importance and sought expert advice from an authority on Elizabethan instruments.’
      • ‘She has been 6 years with this work and is clearly now an authority on the subject.’
      • ‘He was an expert in his area, and quite an authority on Buddhist history.’
      • ‘Peter loved jazz and also was quite an authority on that subject.’
      influence, sway, control, leverage, power, command, weight
      expert, specialist, professional, pundit, oracle, past master, master, maestro, doyen, adept
      source, reference, piece of documentation
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    3. 3.3count noun A book or other source able to supply reliable information or evidence.
      ‘the court cited a series of authorities supporting their decision’
      • ‘No authority was cited in support of a tariff claim for travel of counsel, accommodation or food.’
      • ‘Changes of this sort would, I feel, help to establish the book as an important authority in this crucial and fast-changing field.’
      • ‘Finally, it should be noted that it is not irrelevant to cite an authority to support a claim one is not competent to judge.’
      • ‘In my judgment the authorities support this conclusion which I have reached in principle.’
      • ‘None of the books quotes any sources or authorities for its statements, and all have pathetic indexes.’
      • ‘Your statements of law should be backed up by reference to authorities, statute or case law.’
      • ‘He was not able to produce any authority in support of his proposition.’
      • ‘No authority is cited in support of the premise that the category of ‘all birds’ is somehow constitutionally suspect.’
      source, reference, piece of documentation
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Phrases

  • have something on good authority

    • Have ascertained something from a reliable source.

      ‘I have it on good authority that there is a waiting list of up to five weeks’
      • ‘I have it on good authority (as I can't understand a word of it myself!) that this e-mail is asking what we think about using the Welsh Language in Wales or something like that.’
      • ‘For this column has it on good authority that the island is about to be bought by a Japanese / British consortium and transformed into a racetrack for one of the quickest growing sports in Europe.’
      • ‘I have it on good authority that these kinds of drugs generally take some time to build up in the system and start being effective.’
      • ‘I have it on good authority that he's always been like that, it's not merely a product of old age.’
      • ‘I have it on good authority that he has left the company.’
      • ‘We have this information on good authority from our own very reliable Minister for Justice.’
      • ‘I have it on good authority from an estate agent friend of mine, that there is a new index of the social desirability of an area.’
      • ‘I have it on good authority that at least three versions of the film were shown around the globe - one for the French market, one for the English / American market and one for the rest of the universe.’
      • ‘And no, I haven't read the book but I have it on good authority (my mum and dad) that it's a great read.’
      • ‘Actually, we have it on good authority that at least one U.S. Senator reads our blog regularly, and that others know about it and read it occasionally.’
      • ‘I have it on good authority that he is a personal friend of hers.’
      evidence, testimony, witness, attestation, sworn statement, declaration, word, avowal, deposition, profession
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Origin

Middle English: from Old French autorite, from Latin auctoritas, from auctor ‘originator, promoter’ (see author).

Pronunciation

authority

/ɔːˈθɒrɪti/