[ uh-thawr-i-tee, uh-thor- ]
See synonyms for: authorityauthorities on

noun,plural au·thor·i·ties.
  1. the power to determine, adjudicate, or otherwise settle issues or disputes; jurisdiction; the right to control, command, or determine.

  2. a power or right delegated or given; authorization: Who has the authority to grant permission?

  1. a person or body of persons in whom authority is vested, as a governmental agency: The housing authority provides rental assistance payments to low-income residents.The bridges and piers are built and maintained by the Port Authority.

  2. Usually authorities . persons having the legal power to make and enforce the law; government: They finally persuaded the authorities that they were not involved in espionage.

  3. an accepted source of information, advice, etc.: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the leading authority on vaccines and immunizations.

  4. a quotation or citation from such a source.

  5. an expert on a subject: He is an authority on baseball.

  6. persuasive force; cogency: She spoke with authority.

  7. a statute, court rule, or judicial decision that establishes a rule or principle of law; a ruling.

  8. right to respect or acceptance of one's word, command, thought, etc.; commanding influence: the authority of a parent;the authority of a great writer.

  9. mastery in execution or performance, as of a work of art or literature or a piece of music.

  10. a warrant for action; justification.

  11. testimony; witness.

Origin of authority

First recorded in 1200–50; earlier auct(h)oritie, from Latin auctōritās “power, influence, prestige,” equivalent to auctor “authority, originator, supporter” (see author ) + -itās -ity

Other words for authority

Other words from authority

  • an·ti·au·thor·i·ty, adjective

Words Nearby authority Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use authority in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for authority


/ (ɔːˈθɒrɪtɪ) /

nounplural -ties
  1. the power or right to control, judge, or prohibit the actions of others

  2. (often plural) a person or group of people having this power, such as a government, police force, etc

  1. a position that commands such a power or right (often in the phrase in authority)

  2. such a power or right delegated, esp from one person to another; authorization: she has his authority

  3. the ability to influence or control others: a man of authority

  4. an expert or an authoritative written work in a particular field: he is an authority on Ming china

  5. evidence or testimony: we have it on his authority that she is dead

  6. confidence resulting from great expertise: the violinist lacked authority in his cadenza

  7. (capital when part of a name) a public board or corporation exercising governmental authority in administering some enterprise: Independent Broadcasting Authority

  8. law

    • a judicial decision, statute, or rule of law that establishes a principle; precedent

    • legal permission granted to a person to perform a specified act

Origin of authority

C14: from French autorité, from Latin auctōritas, from auctor author

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012