Definition of respondeat superior in US English:

respondeat superior


  • ‘Let the superior answer’; the principle that an employer can be held liable for certain wrongs committed by an employee during the course of his or her employment.


Mid 17th century; earliest use found in Edward Coke (1552–1634), lawyer, legal writer, and politician. From post-classical Latin respondeat superior ‘let the superior answer’ from classical Latin respondeat, 3rd person singular present subjunctive of respondēre + superior.