EnglishEdit

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EtymologyEdit

From Medieval Latin agentia, from Latin agēns (present participle of agere (to act)), agentis (cognate with French agence, see also agent).

PronunciationEdit

  • IPA(key): /ˈeɪ.dʒən.si/
  • (file)

NounEdit

agency (countable and uncountable, plural agencies)

  1. The capacity, condition, or state of acting or of exerting power.
    Synonyms: action, activity, operation
    • (Can we date this quote by Woodward and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?)
      A few advances there are in the following papers tending to assert the superintendence and agency of Providence in the natural world.
  2. (sociology, philosophy, psychology) The capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices.
    Coordinate terms: free will, structure
    moral agency
    individual agency
    • 2001, Todd McGowan, The Feminine "No!", SUNY Press (→ISBN), page 105:
      Formally, capitalism performs its fundamental gesture—reappropriation without transformation. This bears on the question of subjective agency because this “reappropriation without transformation” is exactly what agency seeks to avoid; such a process indicates, in fact, that one's agency has failed, that one really had no agency in the first place.
    • 2012, Edmund V. Sullivan, A Critical Psychology, Springer Science & Business Media (→ISBN), page 75:
      Strictly speaking, at the level of personal agency one could say that power is a condition where one is “enabled.” I would contend that this is a condition of personal agency.
    • 2013, Andy Clark, Julian Kiverstein, Tillmann Vierkant, Decomposing the Will, Oxford University Press (→ISBN), page 112:
      The feeling of being in control of one's body should involve the sense of body-ownership, plus an additional sense of agency.
  3. A medium through which power is exerted or an end is achieved.
    Synonyms: instrumentality, means
  4. The office or function of an agent; also, the relationship between a principal and that person's agent.
    authority of agency
  5. An establishment engaged in doing business for another; also, the place of business or the district of such an agency.
    Synonym: management
    Hyponyms: advertising agency, dating agency, employment agency, escort agency, introduction agency, modelling agency, news agency, press agency, relief agency, syndication agency, travel agency
    • 2012, Simon Toms, The Impact of the UK Temporary Employment Industry in Assisting Agency Workers since the Year 2000, Cambridge Scholars Publishing (→ISBN), page 277:
      As an employment agency you have a responsibility to supply work to the individual agency worker, as well as a service to the client.
  6. A department or other administrative unit of a government; also, the office or headquarters of, or the district administered by such unit of government.
    Hyponyms: antitrust agency, intelligence agency, space agency
    Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
    Central Intelligence Agency

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Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for agency in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)