- answerable or accountable, as for something within one's power, control, or management (often followed by to or for): He is responsible to the president for his decisions.
- involving accountability or responsibility, as in having the power to control or manage: promoted to a responsible position in the firm.
- chargeable with being the author, cause, or occasion of something (usually followed by for): Termites were responsible for the damage.
- having a capacity for moral decisions and therefore accountable; capable of rational thought or action: The defendant is not responsible for his actions.
- able to discharge obligations or pay debts.
- reliable or dependable, as in meeting debts, conducting business dealings, etc.
- (of a government, member of a government, government agency, or the like) answerable to or serving at the discretion of an elected legislature or the electorate.
Origin of responsible
- (postpositive usually foll by for) having control or authority (over)
- (postpositive foll by to) being accountable for one's actions and decisions (to)to be responsible to one's commanding officer
- (of a position, duty, etc) involving decision and accountability
- (often foll by for) being the agent or cause (of some action)to be responsible for a mistake
- able to take rational decisions without supervision; accountable for one's own actionsa responsible adult
- able to meet financial obligations; of sound credit
Word Origin and History for unresponsible
1590s, "answerable" (to another, for something), from obsolete French responsible (13c., Modern French responsable, as if from Latin *responsabilis), from Latin respons-, past participle stem of respondere "to respond" (see respond). Meaning "accountable for one's actions" is attested from 1640s; that of "reliable, trustworthy" is from 1690s. Retains the sense of "obligation" in the Latin root word. Related: Responsibly.