What does authority mean?

Definitions for authority
əˈθɔr ɪ ti, əˈθɒr-au·thor·i·ty

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word authority.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. authority, authorization, authorisation, potency, dominance, say-sonoun

    the power or right to give orders or make decisions

    "he has the authority to issue warrants"; "deputies are given authorization to make arrests"; "a place of potency in the state"

  2. authoritynoun

    (usually plural) persons who exercise (administrative) control over others

    "the authorities have issued a curfew"

  3. authoritynoun

    an expert whose views are taken as definitive

    "he is an authority on corporate law"

  4. assurance, self-assurance, confidence, self-confidence, authority, surenessnoun

    freedom from doubt; belief in yourself and your abilities

    "his assurance in his superiority did not make him popular"; "after that failure he lost his confidence"; "she spoke with authority"

  5. agency, federal agency, government agency, bureau, office, authoritynoun

    an administrative unit of government

    "the Central Intelligence Agency"; "the Census Bureau"; "Office of Management and Budget"; "Tennessee Valley Authority"

  6. authority, authorization, authorisation, sanctionnoun

    official permission or approval

    "authority for the program was renewed several times"

  7. authoritynoun

    an authoritative written work

    "this book is the final authority on the life of Milton"


  1. authoritynoun

    The power to enforce rules or give orders.

  2. authoritynoun

    Persons in command; specifically, government.

  3. authoritynoun

    A person accepted as a source of reliable information on a subject.

    The world's foremost authority on orangutans.

  4. Etymology: autorite, from auctorité, from stem of auctoritas, from auctor

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Authoritynoun

    Etymology: auctoritas, Lat.

    Idle old man,
    That still would manage those authorities,
    That he hath given away! William Shakespeare, King Lear.

    I know, my lord,
    If law, authority, and pow’r deny not,
    It will go hard with poor Antonio. William Shakespeare, Merch. of Ven.

    Power arising from strength, is always in those that are governed, who are many: but authority arising from opinion, is in those that govern, who are few. William Temple.

    Adam’s sovereignty, that by virtue of being proprietor of the whole world, he had any authority over men, could not have been inherited by any of his children. John Locke.

    The woods are fitter to give rules than cities, where those that call themselves civil and rational, go out of their way, by the authority of example. John Locke.

    But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 1 Tim. ii. 12.

    Do’st thou expect th’ authority of their voices,
    Whose silent wills condemn thee? Ben Jonson, Catiline.

    Something I have heard of this, which I would be glad to find by so sweet an authority confirmed. Philip Sidney, b. ii.

    We urge authorities in things that need not, and introduce the testimony of ancient writers, to confirm things evidently believed. Thomas Browne, Vulgar Errours, b. i. c. 6.

    Having been so hardy as to undertake a charge against the philosophy of the schools, I was liable to have been overborn by a torrent of authorities. Joseph Glanvill, Scepsis Scientifica, Pref.

    They consider the main consent of all the churches in the whole world, witnessing the sacred authority of scriptures, ever sithence the first publication thereof, even till this present day and hour. Richard Hooker, b. v. § 22.


  1. Authority

    In the fields of sociology and political science, authority is the legitimate power of a person or group over other people. In a civil state, authority is practiced in ways such a judicial branch or an executive branch of government.In the exercise of governance, the terms authority and power are inaccurate synonyms. The term authority identifies the political legitimacy, which grants and justifies the ruler's right to exercise the power of government; and the term power identifies the ability to accomplish an authorized goal, either by compliance or by obedience; hence, authority is the power to make decisions and the legitimacy to make such legal decisions and order their execution.


  1. authority

    Authority refers to the legitimate power or right that an individual, group, or organization possesses to give orders, make decisions, or enforce obedience. It can be derived from law, social structures, or accepted norms, and is often associated with a recognized position or status within a hierarchy. Authority can also refer to a source of expert knowledge or information.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Authoritynoun

    legal or rightful power; a right to command or to act; power exercised buy a person in virtue of his office or trust; dominion; jurisdiction; authorization; as, the authority of a prince over subjects, and of parents over children; the authority of a court

  2. Authoritynoun

    government; the persons or the body exercising power or command; as, the local authorities of the States; the military authorities

  3. Authoritynoun

    the power derived from opinion, respect, or esteem; influence of character, office, or station, or mental or moral superiority, and the like; claim to be believed or obeyed; as, an historian of no authority; a magistrate of great authority

  4. Authoritynoun

    that which, or one who, is claimed or appealed to in support of opinions, actions, measures, etc

  5. Authoritynoun

    testimony; witness

  6. Authoritynoun

    a precedent; a decision of a court, an official declaration, or an opinion, saying, or statement worthy to be taken as a precedent

  7. Authoritynoun

    a book containing such a statement or opinion, or the author of the book

  8. Authoritynoun

    justification; warrant

  9. Etymology: [OE. autorite, auctorite, F. autorit, fr. L. auctoritas, fr. auctor. See Author, n.]


  1. Authority

    The word authority is derived from the Latin word auctoritas, meaning invention, advice, opinion, influence, or command. In English, the word authority can be used to mean power given by the state or by academic knowledge of an area. The word Authority with capital A refers to the governing body upon which such authority is vested; for example, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority or the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Authority

    awth-or′it-i, n. legal power or right: power derived from office or character: weight of testimony: permission:—pl. Author′ities, precedents: opinions or sayings carrying weight: persons in power.—adj. Author′itative, having the sanction or weight of authority: dictatorial.—adv. Author′itatively.—n. Author′itativeness. [L. auctoritatem, auctoritas, auctor.]

Dictionary of Nautical Terms

  1. authority

    The legal power or right of commanding.

Military Dictionary and Gazetteer

  1. authority

    In a general acceptation of the term, signifies a right to command and a consequent right to be obeyed. For the appointment of officers of the U. S. army, see Appointing Power. It appears that the sovereigns of Great Britain and other nations have the power to appoint and dismiss officers at pleasure.

Editors Contribution

  1. authority

    Official right to make a specific decision.

    They do have the authority to create legislation.

    Submitted by MaryC on February 5, 2020  

Suggested Resources

  1. authority

    The authority symbol -- In this Symbols.com article you will learn about the meaning of the authority symbol and its characteristic.

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'authority' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #514

  2. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'authority' in Written Corpus Frequency: #697

  3. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'authority' in Nouns Frequency: #77

How to pronounce authority?

How to say authority in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of authority in Chaldean Numerology is: 4

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of authority in Pythagorean Numerology is: 2

Examples of authority in a Sentence

  1. Terry Namkung:

    Career politicians like Bobby Scott are coming for our freedom and using our children to take it, by removing God and parental authority, we are losing everything that made this country the most free and successful economic engine in history.

  2. Michel Foucault:

    Freedom of conscience entails more dangers than authority and despotism.

  3. Representatives Speaker John Boehner:

    We had several conversations yesterday, trying to find a way to move ahead, i want trade promotion authority finished as soon as we can get it finished. We're looking for a way forward and when we find one, we will let you know.

  4. David Howard:

    Is it possible for the federal government to create any more uncertainty for renters and rental home property owners in this country ? shame on me for assuming the moratorium would not be extended after The President announced The President has no legal authority to do so, nor was Congress able to pass legislation to do so. Meanwhile, rental home property owners have lost billions of dollars they will never recover.

  5. Ken Paxton:

    As federal courts have already ruled three times, there are limits to the President's authority, and those limits enacted by Congress were exceeded when the President unilaterally sought to grant 'lawful presence' to more than 4 million unauthorized aliens who are in this country unlawfully, the Court should affirm what President Obama said himself on more than 20 occasions: that he cannot unilaterally rewrite congressional laws and circumvent the people's representatives.

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Translations for authority

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"authority." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 22 Apr. 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/authority>.

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1 Comment
  • Alejandro Mendez
    Alejandro Mendez
    We have to teach our children to always respect authority it very important to there well being start with us as Parents if they don't respect us they won't respect there teachers;police or anybody else Starts with God then us as parents then everybody else Authority means power to command! 
    LikeReply 29 years ago

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directed outward; marked by interest in others or concerned with external reality
A extroversive
B epidemic
C unsealed
D contagious

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