Definition of authority in English:


Line breaks: au¦thor|ity
Pronunciation: /ɔːˈθɒrɪti

noun (plural authorities)

  • 2 (often authorities) A person or organization having political or administrative power and control: health authorities issued a worldwide alert
    More example sentences
    • Apart from the politicians and the health authorities, economists are also worried.
    • These, then, are the various powers under which governmental authorities may act.
    • They are also calling for powers to allow authorities to intervene to protect young people who are at risk from drugs.
    officials, officialdom, the people in charge, the government, the administration, the establishment, the bureaucracy, the system; the police
    informal the powers that be, the (men in) suits, Big Brother
  • 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
    More example sentences
    • One man in particular stood out amongst them, standing with authority and giving commands to anyone who came near.
    • He rose quickly in an army which appreciated his soldierly presence and natural 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.
    influence, sway, control, leverage, power, command, weight; reputation, standing, kudos, status, stature, prestige, gravitas, image, esteem; supremacy, superiority, eminence; rank, position, station; credibility, plausibility, integrity; acceptance, trust, faith, confidence
    informal clout, pull
    North American informal drag
  • 3.1The confidence resulting from personal expertise: he hit the ball with authority
    More example sentences
    • He strikes the ball around the table with great authority and confidence.
    • He controlled his goal area with confidence and authority and dealt expertly with every situation.
    • He looked as suave as when we first dated, dressed in a sharp suit, walking with an air of confidence and authority.
  • 3.2 [count noun] A person with extensive or specialized knowledge about a subject; an expert: he was an authority on the stock market
    More example sentences
    • 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.
    • She has been 6 years with this work and is clearly now an authority on the subject.
    expert, specialist, professional, pundit, oracle, past master, master, maestro, doyen, adept; guru, sage, scholar; connoisseur, aficionado, one of the cognoscenti
    informal walking encyclopedia, bible, buff, boffin, ace, pro, whizz, wizard
    British informal dab hand
    North American informal maven, crackerjack
    source, reference, piece of documentation; citation, quotation, quote, excerpt, passage
  • 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
    More example sentences
    • None of the books quotes any sources or authorities for its statements, and all have pathetic indexes.
    • 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.


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
More example sentences
  • We have this information on good authority from our own very reliable Minister for Justice.
  • I have it on good authority that he has left the company.
  • 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.
evidence, testimony, witness, attestation, sworn statement, declaration, word, avowal, deposition, profession


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

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