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From accountable +‎ -ity.


  • (US) IPA(key): /ə.ˌkaʊn.tə.ˈbɪl.ət.i/
  • (file)


accountability (usually uncountable, plural accountabilities)

  1. The state of being accountable; liability to be called on to render an account or give an explanation; liability to be held responsible or answerable for something.
    • 1946, Winston Churchill, Sinews of Peace:
      The United States stands at this time at the pinnacle of world power. It is a solemn moment for the American Democracy. For with primacy in power is also joined an awe-inspiring accountability to the future.
  2. An open determination of one's responsibility for something and imposition of consequences.
    • 2016 April 10, “Credit Reports”, in Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, season 3, episode 8, John Oliver (actor), via HBO:
      Just think about that: 1 in 4 had an error, and 1 in 20 was seriously wrong. And that is not good. If every 20th Frosty that Wendy’s sold turned out to be a cup of warm goat semen, we would want some accountability and we’d want it fast! At least freeze it!
    • 2000, Neil Bateman, Advocacy Skills for Health and Social Care Professionals, page 53:
      Levying a charge will not, by itself, guarantee accountability: witness the millions of dissatisfied customers of the private sector travel agents who book the wrong holiday, solicitors who over-charge, builders who do shoddy work, garages that misrepair cars, estate agents who mislead, shops that sell defective goods and refuse refunds, etc.
  3. Good-faith acceptance of one's responsibility for something and of its consequences.
    • 2021 March 10, Nigel Harris, “It's time to get on with it!”, in RAIL, number 926, page 3:
      As the biggest rail player, Network Rail was usually held accountable for failings, but had no authority to change anything to solve the problems. The DfT had been given that authority in 2004 - but consistently ducked accountability.
  4. (military) The obligation imposed by law or regulation on an officer or other person for keeping accurate record of property, documents, or funds. The person having this obligation may or may not have actual possession of the property, documents, or funds. Accountability is concerned primarily with records, while responsibility is concerned primarily with custody, care, and safekeeping.


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