Definition of authority in English:

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Pronunciation: /əˈTHôrədē/
(abbreviation auth.)

noun (plural authorities)

1The power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience: he had absolute authority over his subordinates positions of authority they acted under the authority of the UN Security Council a rebellion against those in authority
More example sentences
  • That is vital if soldiers are to trust those in authority over them.
  • And this fact will, no doubt, be trumpeted as a success by those set in authority over us.
  • You may clash with somebody in authority over an important and complex matter in what could turn out to be a difficult period.
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
More example sentences
  • It is our right to determine who enters the country and we democratically delegate the authority to uphold this right to the Federal government.
  • We can delegate the authority to train and bring up our children to someone else but never the responsibility.
  • And when I delegate responsibility, I delegate the authority to go along with it.
authorization, right, power, mandate, prerogative, license, permission
1.2Official permission; sanction: the money was spent without congressional authority
More example sentences
  • The accused approached government officials, seeking authority to leave the country.
  • No change of the publication regime is planned, his staff discovers, and the officials involved have no authority to issue any print licenses.
  • And agents do not have permission and have no authority, no jurisdiction to work on Jordanian soil.
2 (often authorities) A person or organization having power or control in a particular, typically political or administrative, sphere: the health authorities the Chicago Transit Authority the authorities ordered all foreign embassies to close she wasn’t used to dealing with authority
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.
government, administration, establishment;
3The 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 spoke with authority on the subject
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.
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.
3.2A person with extensive or specialized knowledge about a subject; an expert: she 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.
3.3A book or other source able to supply reliable information or evidence, typically to settle a dispute: 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, word, avowal;
Law  deposition


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

Words that rhyme with authority

inferiority, juniority, majority, minority, priority, seniority, sonority, sorority, superiority

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: au·thor·i·ty

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