Definition of authority in English:

authority

noun

  • 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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘You may clash with somebody in authority over an important and complex matter in what could turn out to be a difficult period.’
    • ‘Somebody in authority issued an explicit order to withdraw.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘And this fact will, no doubt, be trumpeted as a success by those set in authority over us.’
    • ‘His position gave him great authority over whether and how findings of the federally funded studies were disseminated.’
    • ‘For conformity and submission to exist within a society, there must be a corresponding need to find security in authority and power.’
    • ‘Each position in the structure has one position directly exercising authority over it.’
    • ‘Yet the port authority actually has little authority over its constituencies.’
    • ‘There was one particular person who stood out especially since he was in authority and had a position in the church.’
    • ‘They have broad constitutional authority over the jurisdiction of the federal courts.’
    • ‘He was given full authority over everything, including the decision about subpoenaing journalists.’
    • ‘There are many jurisdictions claiming authority over the same highways.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He lied to his wife and possibly exploited his position of authority over a young intern.’
    • ‘Putting him in a position of authority over her was just going to cause problems.’
    • ‘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. 1.1[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’
      • ‘He did have delegated authority to lend up to £200,000 unsecured without seeking Head Office approval.’
      • ‘Since psychologists in many provinces already have the legal authority to diagnose, this system could be easily implemented.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘So what you really want is not freedom, you want the authority to violate the freedom of others through your local or state government.’
      • ‘And when I delegate responsibility, I delegate the authority to go along with it.’
      • ‘We are a civilian organisation and our officers have no executive powers, such as the authority to detain or arrest people.’
      • ‘Every soldier now has the authority to find and arrest any war criminal.’
      • ‘The committee agreed to give planning officers delegated authority to approve the two outline schemes, subject to a number of conditions.’
      • ‘We can delegate the authority to train and bring up our children to someone else but never the responsibility.’
      • ‘It is our right to determine who enters the country and we democratically delegate the authority to uphold this right to the Federal government.’
      • ‘The mayor does indeed have delegated authority to do this.’
      • ‘Universities have the authority to set fees as they wish but generally follow these guidelines.’
      • ‘Police were also to be given the authority to search a property without a court warrant under new emergency investigation powers.’
      • ‘If the drug is not made available as such, the act gives the government the authority to license the drug to a third party.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘Bring them to meetings and begin to delegate responsibility and authority to act, while you observe and coach.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Right now, there is no legal authority to hold such an auction.’
      • ‘The exact nature and scope of the authority delegated must be stated in the document designating the executive agent.’
      authorization, right, power, mandate, prerogative, licence
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    2. 1.2 Official permission; sanction:
      ‘the money was spent without parliamentary authority’
      • ‘This is why I am not reassured when the government offers that judges rather than politicians should give authority for control orders.’
      • ‘This was a very widely drafted section which in effect made it an offence to disclose any official information without authority.’
      • ‘You said the other night on the show, that the president doesn't need congressional authority to use these military tribunals.’
      • ‘Lawyers reportedly told the president that he does not need congressional authority to go to war.’
      • ‘The reason is that it is a fundamental principle that the legislature should not act or expend money without parliamentary authority.’
      • ‘In fact, the President does not need Congressional authority to respond.’
      • ‘The accused approached government officials, seeking authority to leave the country.’
      • ‘These are agreements and contracts sanctioned by the authority of the state.’
      • ‘And agents do not have permission and have no authority, no jurisdiction to work on Jordanian soil.’
      • ‘No change of the publication regime is planned, his staff discovers, and the officials involved have no authority to issue any print licenses.’
      • ‘Liquor and Gaming Authority had ultimate authority to approve and vet every year of their operations and expenditure plan.’
      • ‘Yet when doing so they always sought congressional authority, even if after the fact.’
      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’
    • ‘When the planning authority gave this permission they clearly intended to protect the amenities.’
    • ‘The local health authority granted permission for our study, and local health staff contacted the participants.’
    • ‘I have a problem with authority in general and with government in particular.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It's taken him 37 years at the authority to reach the top job, and he's delighted.’
    • ‘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 French health authorities are attempting to trace and treat those individuals in France.’
    • ‘The other mine cited by the source is under the control of the French authorities.’
    • ‘The health authorities do not seem to be taking action to stop these activities.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Apart from the politicians and the health authorities, economists are also worried.’
    • ‘Drug misuse within our community is an issue which the authorities are often accused of ignoring.’
    • ‘There was a positive obligation on a public authority to ensure proper protection of rights under the Convention.’
    • ‘This sometimes manifests in what others have referred to as a ‘problem with authority.’’
    • ‘When a political authority issues a command and the subject has a duty to obey, what is the nature of this duty?’
    • ‘Last March the planning authority decided to grant permission for the development subject to 34 conditions.’
    • ‘Local health authorities have also been flooded with calls about dentists.’
    • ‘Both military and civil authorities moved quickly to control opinion through the press.’
    • ‘To maintain public order, the authorities instituted a regular, salaried police force.’
    • ‘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.’
    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’
    • ‘He rose quickly in an army which appreciated his soldierly presence and natural authority.’
    • ‘He writes with authority, warmth, wit and infallible scholarship.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It is increasingly important that medical experts have real authority and expertise to retain the respect of their colleagues.’
    • ‘And I think he's somebody who can speak with authority about what that kind of leadership can provide.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Nothing is further from the truth, and I write here with authority.’
    • ‘I never once questioned the experts' authority or expertise about something I had lived with all my life.’
    • ‘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 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.’
    • ‘The five days of the conference will, however, test his confidence and authority to the limit.’
    • ‘And even now, as he pushes the case for war, he is still held in high esteem overseas, a man who speaks with authority.’
    • ‘But my enthusiasm waned slightly as I began to realise there are only so many colours that can be cited as ‘lucky’ with authority.’
    • ‘But there is a President who has personal moral authority.’
    • ‘One man in particular stood out amongst them, standing with authority and giving commands to anyone who came near.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A woman is permitted to chat or babble, but speaking in public with authority is still the greatest transgression.’
    • ‘I don't read any particular columnist religiously so I can't comment with authority on his philosophy.’
    • ‘Its sales staff, for example, are sent on trips to its holiday destinations so they can talk with authority to potential customers.’
    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’
      • ‘Down, in the opening minutes, played with authority, revelling in intricate passing movements which yielded scores.’
      • ‘He worked on productions with supreme confidence and authority.’
      • ‘By walking with authority, you are less inviting for a criminal who will attempt to use control to cause harm.’
      • ‘He strikes the ball around the table with great authority and confidence.’
      • ‘In this area Cullen writes with authority and knowledge.’
      • ‘He looked as suave as when we first dated, dressed in a sharp suit, walking with an air of confidence and authority.’
      • ‘He controlled his goal area with confidence and authority and dealt expertly with every situation.’
      • ‘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.’
      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’
      • ‘Betty was also an avid reader and became an authority on Irish and local history, and family genealogy.’
      • ‘What's more, I'm scarcely an authority on grammar, and I can hardly type.’
      • ‘He was an authority on English and American literature with a special interest in drama.’
      • ‘Peter loved jazz and also was quite an authority on that subject.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘My interest in the form developed late and I make no claim to being an authority on the subject.’
      • ‘I also hate it when anyone claims to be an authority on culture.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He was something of an authority on its history, and was keen to share his knowledge with those wanting to learn.’
      • ‘He is a local celebrity, and an authority on military history.’
      • ‘Names are so hard to get right - and he is 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I am an authority on the self-delusion of addiction.’
      • ‘Luckily, as an internet writer, I am an authority on this subject, and for once I don't mean that sarcastically.’
      • ‘Fortunately, the auctioneer recognised its importance and sought expert advice from an authority on Elizabethan instruments.’
      • ‘He was an authority on the history of Stamford and he lectured locally about the town.’
      • ‘I am still learning about this, so I am not an authority on feminist intellectualism.’
      source, reference, piece of documentation
      expert, specialist, professional, pundit, oracle, past master, master, maestro, doyen, adept
      influence, sway, control, leverage, power, command, weight
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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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Finally, it should be noted that it is not irrelevant to cite an authority to support a claim one is not competent to judge.’
      • ‘Changes of this sort would, I feel, help to establish the book as an important authority in this crucial and fast-changing field.’
      • ‘He was not able to produce any authority in support of his proposition.’
      • ‘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.’
      source, reference, piece of documentation
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Origin

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

Pronunciation:

authority

/ɔːˈθɒrɪti/