authority

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Middle English autorite (book or quotation that settles an argument), from Old French auctorité, from Latin stem of auctoritas (invention, advice, opinion, influence, command), from auctor (master, leader, author)

Pronunciation[edit]

  • (UK) IPA(key): /ɔːˈθɒɹəti/
  • (US) IPA(key): /əˈθɔɹəti/, /əˈθɑɹəti/
  • (file)

Noun[edit]

authority (countable and uncountable, plural authorities)

  1. (uncountable) The power to enforce rules or give orders.
    I have the authority to penalise the staff in my department, but not the authority to sack them.
    She lost all her respect and authority after turning up drunk to the meeting.
    Respect my authority!
    • 1883, Howard Pyle, The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood Chapter V
      But in the meantime Robin Hood and his band lived quietly in Sherwood Forest, without showing their faces abroad, for Robin knew that it would not be wise for him to be seen in the neighborhood of Nottingham, those in authority being very wroth with him.
  2. (used in singular or plural form) Persons in command; specifically, government.
    • 1927, F. E. Penny, chapter 4, Pulling the Strings:
      The case was that of a murder. It had an element of mystery about it, however, which was puzzling the authorities. A turban and loincloth soaked in blood had been found; also a staff.
    • 2013 August 10, “Legal highs: A new prescription”, The Economist, volume 408, number 8848: 
      No sooner has a [synthetic] drug been blacklisted than chemists adjust their recipe and start churning out a subtly different one. These “legal highs” are sold for the few months it takes the authorities to identify and ban them, and then the cycle begins again.
  3. (countable) A person accepted as a source of reliable information on a subject.
    the world's foremost authority on orangutans
    • 1930 September 18, Albert Einstein, as quoted in Albert Einstein: Creator and Rebel (1988) by Banesh Hoffman
      To punish me for my contempt of authority, Fate has made me an authority myself.

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Related terms[edit]

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