Definition of authority in English:



  • 1[mass 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’
    • ‘There are many jurisdictions claiming authority over the same highways.’
    • ‘Yet the port authority actually has little authority over its constituencies.’
    • ‘You may clash with somebody in authority over an important and complex matter in what could turn out to be a difficult period.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A leader who wants power must be prepared to accept decisions made by those in authority whether they are painful or not.’
    • ‘He lied to his wife and possibly exploited his position of authority over a young intern.’
    • ‘His position gave him great authority over whether and how findings of the federally funded studies were disseminated.’
    • ‘They have broad constitutional authority over the jurisdiction of the federal courts.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He was given full authority over everything, including the decision about subpoenaing journalists.’
    • ‘We have a moral centrality that places us in a position of authority over animals.’
    • ‘Why should children listen to those in authority when those in authority have mistreated them?’
    • ‘For conformity and submission to exist within a society, there must be a corresponding need to find security in authority and power.’
    • ‘And this fact will, no doubt, be trumpeted as a success by those set in authority over us.’
    • ‘There was one particular person who stood out especially since he was in authority and had a position in the church.’
    • ‘A ban is a ban and those in authority should act as strictly as they can legally to enforce it.’
    • ‘Somebody in authority issued an explicit order to withdraw.’
    • ‘That is vital if soldiers are to trust those in authority over them.’
    • ‘Each position in the structure has one position directly exercising authority over it.’
    • ‘Putting him in a position of authority over her was just going to cause problems.’
    power, jurisdiction, command, control, mastery, charge, dominance, dominion, rule, sovereignty, ascendancy, supremacy, domination
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    1. 1.1[often 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’
      • ‘Since psychologists in many provinces already have the legal authority to diagnose, this system could be easily implemented.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Universities have the authority to set fees as they wish but generally follow these guidelines.’
      • ‘So what you really want is not freedom, you want the authority to violate the freedom of others through your local or state government.’
      • ‘Let me just say one thing first: The father has the legal and moral authority to speak for his son.’
      • ‘The mayor does indeed have delegated authority to do this.’
      • ‘The committee agreed to give planning officers delegated authority to approve the two outline schemes, subject to a number of conditions.’
      • ‘Police were also to be given the authority to search a property without a court warrant under new emergency investigation powers.’
      • ‘And when I delegate responsibility, I delegate the authority to go along with it.’
      • ‘We can delegate the authority to train and bring up our children to someone else but never the responsibility.’
      • ‘Right now, there is no legal authority to hold such an auction.’
      • ‘Bring them to meetings and begin to delegate responsibility and authority to act, while you observe and coach.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘The exact nature and scope of the authority delegated must be stated in the document designating the executive agent.’
      • ‘He did have delegated authority to lend up to £200,000 unsecured without seeking Head Office approval.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The Council said it was questionable whether it had the legal authority to expend funds to provide educational services in the town.’
      • ‘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.’
      authorization, right, power, mandate, prerogative, licence
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    2. 1.2Official 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.’
      • ‘And agents do not have permission and have no authority, no jurisdiction to work on Jordanian soil.’
      • ‘The accused approached government officials, seeking authority to leave the country.’
      • ‘This is why I am not reassured when the government offers that judges rather than politicians should give authority for control orders.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Lawyers reportedly told the president that he does not need congressional authority to go to war.’
      • ‘Yet when doing so they always sought congressional authority, even if after the fact.’
      • ‘The reason is that it is a fundamental principle that the legislature should not act or expend money without parliamentary authority.’
      • ‘This was a very widely drafted section which in effect made it an offence to disclose any official information without authority.’
      • ‘No change of the publication regime is planned, his staff discovers, and the officials involved have no authority to issue any print licenses.’
      authorization, permission, consent, leave, sanction, licence, dispensation, assent, acquiescence, agreement, approval, seal of approval, approbation, endorsement, imprimatur, clearance
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  • 2A person or organization having political or administrative power and control.

    ‘health authorities issued a worldwide alert’
    • ‘This sometimes manifests in what others have referred to as a ‘problem with authority.’’
    • ‘The health authorities do not seem to be taking action to stop these activities.’
    • ‘It's taken him 37 years at the authority to reach the top job, and he's delighted.’
    • ‘There was a positive obligation on a public authority to ensure proper protection of rights under the Convention.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I have a problem with authority in general and with government in particular.’
    • ‘The local health authority granted permission for our study, and local health staff contacted the participants.’
    • ‘Gustav never forgot this brush with authority, and he passed on his fixation with power to his youngest son.’
    • ‘The threat of a flu epidemic is one of many problems facing scientists and public health authorities.’
    • ‘Last March the planning authority decided to grant permission for the development subject to 34 conditions.’
    • ‘They are also calling for powers to allow authorities to intervene to protect young people who are at risk from drugs.’
    • ‘However, a separate application had been approved by the planning authority.’
    • ‘To maintain public order, the authorities instituted a regular, salaried police force.’
    • ‘Local health authorities have also been flooded with calls about dentists.’
    • ‘The other mine cited by the source is under the control of the French authorities.’
    • ‘The French health authorities are attempting to trace and treat those individuals in France.’
    • ‘When a political authority issues a command and the subject has a duty to obey, what is the nature of this duty?’
    • ‘I note that the local police authority has to obtain planning permission before a flag pole can be put up at their new headquarters.’
    • ‘The court should seek a report on the action taken by the authorities in implementing the order.’
    • ‘These, then, are the various powers under which governmental authorities may act.’
    • ‘Drug misuse within our community is an issue which the authorities are often accused of ignoring.’
    • ‘Apart from the politicians and the health authorities, economists are also worried.’
    officials, officialdom, the people in charge, the government, the administration, the establishment, the bureaucracy, the system
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  • 3[mass 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’
    • ‘But my enthusiasm waned slightly as I began to realise there are only so many colours that can be cited as ‘lucky’ with authority.’
    • ‘A woman is permitted to chat or babble, but speaking in public with authority is still the greatest transgression.’
    • ‘He has some grounds to speak with authority about the region.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I don't read any particular columnist religiously so I can't comment with authority on his philosophy.’
    • ‘I never once questioned the experts' authority or expertise about something I had lived with all my life.’
    • ‘He rose quickly in an army which appreciated his soldierly presence and natural 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.’
    • ‘He writes with authority, warmth, wit and infallible scholarship.’
    • ‘And I think he's somebody who can speak with authority about what that kind of leadership can provide.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The five days of the conference will, however, test his confidence and authority to the limit.’
    • ‘Its sales staff, for example, are sent on trips to its holiday destinations so they can talk with authority to potential customers.’
    influence, sway, control, leverage, power, command, weight
    power, jurisdiction, command, control, mastery, charge, dominance, dominion, rule, sovereignty, ascendancy, supremacy, domination
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    1. 3.1The confidence resulting from personal expertise.
      ‘he hit the ball with authority’
      • ‘He conducts his stage show with authority, moving his body in ways that keep the beat steady.’
      • ‘When Saxon stood up he did so smoothly, with an air of authority and confidence he didn't think he'd ever possessed.’
      • ‘By walking with authority, you are less inviting for a criminal who will attempt to use control to cause harm.’
      • ‘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 looked as suave as when we first dated, dressed in a sharp suit, walking with an air of confidence and authority.’
      • ‘In this area Cullen writes with authority and knowledge.’
      • ‘Down, in the opening minutes, played with authority, revelling in intricate passing movements which yielded scores.’
      • ‘He strikes the ball around the table with great authority and confidence.’
      plausibility, believability, acceptability, tenability, probability, likelihood, authoritativeness, impressiveness, cogency, weight, validity, soundness
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    2. 3.2[count noun]A person with extensive or specialized knowledge about a subject; an expert.
      ‘he was an authority on the stock market’
      • ‘I am still learning about this, so I am not an authority on feminist intellectualism.’
      • ‘He is an authority on medieval heraldry and a professor of history at the Sorbonne.’
      • ‘Nevertheless, I feel quite confident in my ability to speak as an authority on the subject.’
      • ‘Luckily, as an internet writer, I am an authority on this subject, and for once I don't mean that sarcastically.’
      • ‘Betty was also an avid reader and became an authority on Irish and local history, and family genealogy.’
      • ‘He is a local celebrity, and an authority on military history.’
      • ‘He was an expert in his area, and quite an authority on Buddhist history.’
      • ‘He was an authority on the history of Stamford and he lectured locally about the town.’
      • ‘Fortunately, the auctioneer recognised its importance and sought expert advice from an authority on Elizabethan instruments.’
      • ‘Names are so hard to get right - and he is an authority on the subject.’
      • ‘I also hate it when anyone claims to be an authority on culture.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He was something of an authority on its history, and was keen to share his knowledge with those wanting to learn.’
      • ‘He was an authority on English and American literature with a special interest in drama.’
      • ‘What's more, I'm scarcely an authority on grammar, and I can hardly type.’
      • ‘My interest in the form developed late and I make no claim to being an authority on the subject.’
      • ‘I am an authority on the self-delusion of addiction.’
      • ‘Peter loved jazz and also was quite an authority on that subject.’
      • ‘She has been 6 years with this work and is clearly now an authority on the subject.’
      • ‘The early Dissenters and Separatists of the late 15th century were his specialist study, and he became an authority on this 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. 3.3[count noun]A book or other source able to supply reliable information or evidence.
      ‘the court cited a series of authorities supporting their decision’
      • ‘Your statements of law should be backed up by reference to authorities, statute or case law.’
      • ‘No authority was cited in support of a tariff claim for travel of counsel, accommodation or food.’
      • ‘No authority is cited in support of the premise that the category of ‘all birds’ is somehow constitutionally suspect.’
      • ‘None of the books quotes any sources or authorities for its statements, and all have pathetic indexes.’
      • ‘He was not able to produce any authority in support of his proposition.’
      • ‘Changes of this sort would, I feel, help to establish the book as an important authority in this crucial and fast-changing field.’
      • ‘In my judgment the authorities support this conclusion which I have reached in principle.’
      • ‘Finally, it should be noted that it is not irrelevant to cite an authority to support a claim one is not competent to judge.’
      source, reference, piece of documentation
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Middle English: from Old French autorite, from Latin auctoritas, from auctor originator, promoter (see author).