Definition of responsible in English:



  • 1[predicative] Having an obligation to do something, or having control over or care for someone, as part of one's job or role.

    ‘the cabinet minister responsible for Education’
    • ‘Mothers are ultimately responsible for the care and raising of children.’
    • ‘The general practitioner provided the nurse specialist with a workplace in the practice and was ultimately responsible for patients' care.’
    • ‘The engineers responsible for control systems care about around-the-clock reliability.’
    • ‘Older children are responsible for the care of younger children.’
    • ‘The ministry responsible for health care in prisons is usually not the ministry of health for example, the ministry of justice or the ministry of interior.’
    • ‘Nurses have become directly responsible for rationing care.’
    • ‘They had been worried after one doctor altered Thomas's treatment without consulting a junior colleague responsible for his care.’
    • ‘His wife was ill with depression and he was responsible for caring for the children ranging in age from a teenager to a toddler.’
    • ‘Acute care nurse practitioners are responsible for routine management of patients in the step-down units.’
    • ‘He was also responsible for the care of two other children.’
    • ‘Each monk or nun is responsible for the care and training of one dog, and that dog sleeps in the monk's or nun's bedroom at night.’
    • ‘Wives gave birth to large numbers of children - on average five or six live births - and were responsible for their early care and moral guidance.’
    • ‘Stonehenge still exerts a powerful fascination over people, but on none more than the officials of English Heritage, who are responsible for its care.’
    • ‘The custom is that the eldest brother inherits the largest share of the property and is responsible for taking care of the parents and ancestors.’
    • ‘He was responsible for the care of four churches in the area and had a congregation numbering more than 100.’
    • ‘Among herders, men are responsible for the care of the animals.’
    • ‘Finally, because women are often responsible for the care taking needs of their parents and elders, elder care services are also needed.’
    • ‘Mothers are responsible for the care of young children, and older daughters take an active part in raising their siblings.’
    • ‘He didn't know this was their agreement, but with his wife gone, he was solely responsible for the care of a newborn infant.’
    • ‘Others see women's values more as learned skills, as women are almost always those responsible for the care of children, health and community.’
    in charge of, in control of, at the helm of, accountable for, liable for, charged with
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    1. 1.1Having to report to (a superior) and be answerable to them for one's actions.
      ‘the Prime Minister and cabinet are responsible to Parliament’
      • ‘The staff at various levels would be responsible to and report to the governing board.’
      • ‘He will be directly responsible to the chief executive.’
      • ‘They were confident that an executive responsible to parliament would not be able to infringe rights.’
      • ‘The sovereign finally is responsible to God, if not to his subjects, for the proper discharge of his office.’
      • ‘Do we not have a system of responsible government, whereby the government is responsible to parliament?’
      • ‘We are responsible to God if by our carelessness or neglect we lead our children into a life or crime or other social evils.’
      • ‘Or do they help ensure that our representatives are responsible to the people who elected them?’
      • ‘The colonies were not democracies and the governors were not responsible to an electorate.’
      • ‘The Cabinet would be responsible to the President, but answerable to Parliament.’
      • ‘The abbot in turn is responsible to the council of deans - half elected by the community and half appointed by the abbot.’
      • ‘They will be responsible to the Minister, and it is the Minister, in fact, who has the power to make decisions and act.’
      • ‘The head of state is responsible to his people and must obey the law.’
      • ‘The press is not responsible to the government, but to their readers and listeners or viewers.’
      • ‘A good student newspaper needs to be ultimately responsible to the student population it is relevant to.’
      • ‘The press is chosen by and responsible to its readership, at any moment its consumers can choose it or toss it away.’
  • 2Being the primary cause of something and so able to be blamed or credited for it.

    ‘Gooch was responsible for 198 of his side's 542 runs’
    • ‘My view is that the cyclist was primarily responsible for this collision and I apportion his blame at 60%.’
    • ‘For over 40 years he was one of the men responsible for literally bringing thousands of sick people to hospitals all over the country.’
    • ‘It is known that the bacteria responsible for UTI reside primarily in the feed flora.’
    • ‘He was responsible for bringing so much new music to the airwaves.’
    • ‘We must do all we can to bring back a system where the person who is primarily responsible for his own misfortune must bear the full blame for that misfortune.’
    • ‘There was never any serious intention to bring to justice those responsible for the May riots.’
    • ‘The defendants are therefore responsible for one primary cause of the second flood, though not for the other.’
    • ‘Bringing those responsible for these criminal acts to justice, however senior they may be, will be embarrassing.’
    • ‘They are primarily very much responsible for a steep decline in youth smoking.’
    • ‘Water transport is ruled out as the primary process responsible for removing skeletal elements based on abrasion data.’
    • ‘Several former bank directors and owners found responsible for misusing credits have also been prosecuted.’
    • ‘According to them, the people blaming them are actually responsible for the stream's present condition.’
    • ‘He is also responsible for bringing a number of actors out of obscurity and into the limelight, including James Dean in the film East of Eden.’
    • ‘His team alone was responsible for bringing in a third of the company's annual revenue, the hearing was told.’
    • ‘Vandals with an air rifle may have been responsible for bringing a major section of the Metrolink tram system to a standstill.’
    • ‘The modest hero has asked not to be identified, but police praised his selfless action and pledged to bring those responsible for the attack to justice.’
    • ‘This is the group responsible for bringing live music to elevators all over campus in past weeks.’
    • ‘That person was responsible for bringing this crisis about and for tarnishing the reputations of all of us who work for the Corporation.’
    • ‘The primary agent responsible for respiratory disease is obviously microbial.’
    • ‘Of course, vaccination is primarily responsible for the low incidence rates.’
    accountable, answerable, to blame
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    1. 2.1Morally accountable for one's behaviour.
      ‘the progressive emergence of the child as a responsible being’
      • ‘New Zealand First believes that this bill will encourage more responsible activities and more accountability to public donors.’
      • ‘We're all in this together - equally responsible and equally accountable.’
      • ‘They called instead for a morally serious art, which would teach responsible behaviour by example.’
      • ‘Litter louts, owners of uncontrolled dogs and people who ignore red flags and danger signs must conform to the rules of responsible behaviour.’
      • ‘It is hoped the updated Countryside Code, will encourage responsible behaviour.’
      • ‘They are, nevertheless, as socially and morally responsible as was possible at the time.’
      • ‘Alcohol and drug free activities will be set up in the major locations to encourage responsible behaviour.’
      • ‘The aim of this initiative is to raise awareness and encourage more responsible behaviour by dog owners in the county.’
      • ‘They are adults standing for, one presumes, responsible behaviour and the higher values of civility and democracy.’
      • ‘Practise positive parenting by giving praise where it is due and reward your children for sensible and responsible behaviour.’
      • ‘There is a moral crime of the highest order being committed, and somebody is morally responsible.’
      • ‘While the motives of the founders of these organisations vary, the theme of socialising youth and encouraging responsible behaviour is a common one.’
      • ‘Western culture is based on an idea of an integrated, coherent, solid-state self and on the related idea that we are all equally morally responsible.’
      • ‘Also, abstinence is placed much lower than responsible behaviour on the totem pole of values.’
      • ‘If one accepts the view, one will have to grant that it is impossible to know whether any human being is ever morally responsible.’
      • ‘It can ensure transparency and accountability within parameters of responsible journalism.’
      • ‘Beneath all this is essentially the point of responsible behaviour.’
      • ‘The law holds that such blame and censure are only appropriate if the offender was morally responsible for his behaviour.’
      • ‘Inalienable rights are not a reward for responsible behaviour.’
      • ‘Political correction and human rights have superseded responsible behaviour and respect for others and their property.’
  • 3(of a job or position) involving important duties, independent decision-making, or control over others.

    ‘she had risen rapidly to a high and responsible position in the civil service’
    • ‘But the King would not appoint him to responsible positions and the Academie Francaise would not accept him as a member.’
    • ‘He has a very responsible job and I am sure his salary is quite enviable.’
    • ‘It is unbelievable that anyone would have the nerve to even suggest this - especially someone who has a responsible position in Government.’
    • ‘Surely, that can only be cheap publicity, and it would be dangerous to entrust such people with responsible positions.’
    • ‘How many other regular jobs require people to work for this many hours in such a highly responsible position?’
    • ‘He is no different to anyone else coming into a responsible position in a big organisation.’
    • ‘How could a guy like this have held a responsible position at the CIA?’
    • ‘He had a responsible job, a comfortable home, a wife, a young daughter and a second child on the way - yet he knew there must be more to life than this.’
    • ‘But more surprising is the number of independent people wanting to take on such a responsible position.’
    • ‘It's a responsible position to take and I'm proud to carry it through.’
    • ‘He said the PBTA would like those in responsible positions to exercise more control, and to apply the same rules to everyone.’
    • ‘A person in a responsible position is definitely the person to educate those under his/her control.’
    • ‘She held a responsible job in community economic development, and she was bright, charming and comely.’
    • ‘He is a businessman of ability and has a responsible position he takes very seriously.’
    • ‘It turns out that it's a pretty responsible job indeed, with a staff of people to manage, and control of a number of titles.’
    • ‘But what about the poor driver, with no better accommodation, despite his responsible job?’
    • ‘This is a highly responsible job and anyone thinking of applying should think long and hard about the time commitments this job entails.’
    • ‘These houses are occupied by senior citizens who have held responsible positions during their working lives.’
    • ‘He was a highly respected attorney who held a number of responsible positions in city and county governments.’
    • ‘A trained nurse, she had held down responsible jobs all her life, and had travelled widely in the US and Canada.’
    important, powerful, authoritative, executive, decision-making, high
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    1. 3.1Capable of being trusted.
      ‘a responsible adult’
      • ‘Now he had matured into a dependable, conscientious, responsible citizen.’
      • ‘They grow up to be mature, responsible, happy adults with good jobs that they enjoy and a family who loves them very much.’
      • ‘Now she was one of the most level headed, responsible adults I knew.’
      • ‘Making all pupils feel they are valued and have a contribution to make to the school community is vital in helping children become responsible adults.’
      • ‘If we fail to teach them these things, and fail to help them grow into responsible adults, we are failing our children and we are failing ourselves.’
      • ‘He also agreed that the head nurse in obstetrics was a highly capable, responsible, and conscientious nurse.’
      • ‘Children absorb the tenets of morality from parents, relatives, teachers and other responsible adults.’
      • ‘I'd always had an impression of Charlotte as being somehow responsible and capable.’
      • ‘All bonfires should be supervised by a responsible adult this weekend.’
      • ‘Are they fully responsible adults, or are they more like children?’
      • ‘Any damage to these children will have been caused by damaged adults and it's up to responsible adults to support young people in making sense of what has happened to them.’
      • ‘Fireworks should be completely avoided, although if people did insist on using them, it should only be by a reliable and responsible adult.’
      • ‘The group shares openly their struggles and ultimately their triumphs as they behave as responsible young adults.’
      • ‘Even if the ice is considered safe, a responsible adult should always supervise children playing on or near ice.’
      • ‘Children have always needed to be able to trust responsible adults, often outside the family, when they face difficult issues.’
      • ‘That is why all of us have a responsibility to treat the electorate as mature and responsible adults.’
      • ‘These are not children, they're meant to be responsible adults.’
      • ‘Today's young men and women are more mature, responsible and competent.’
      • ‘Free market society needs not only consumers but also responsible individuals, capable of hard work and creative action.’
      • ‘Children under 16 must be accompanied by a responsible adult.’


Late 16th century (in the sense ‘answering to, corresponding’): from obsolete French responsible, from Latin respons- answered, offered in return, from the verb respondere (see respond).