Alternative formsEdit


From Middle English auctorite, autorite (authority, book or quotation that settles an argument), from Old French auctorité, from Latin stem of auctōritās (invention, advice, opinion, influence, command), from auctor (master, leader, author). For the presence of the h, compare the etymology of author.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ɔːˈθɒɹəti/, /ɔːˈθɒɹɪti/
  • (US) IPA(key): /əˈθɔɹəti/, /əˈθɑɹəti/
  • (file)
  • (obsolete) IPA(key): /ɒːˈtɒɹɪti/
  • Hyphenation: au‧thor‧i‧ty
  • Rhymes: -ɒɹɪti


authority (countable and uncountable, plural authorities)

  1. (uncountable) The power to enforce rules or give orders.
    I have the authority to penalise the staff in my department, but not the authority to sack them.
    She lost all her respect and authority after turning up drunk to the meeting.
    Respect my authority!
    • 1883, Howard Pyle, The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood Chapter V
      But in the meantime Robin Hood and his band lived quietly in Sherwood Forest, without showing their faces abroad, for Robin knew that it would not be wise for him to be seen in the neighborhood of Nottingham, those in authority being very wroth with him.
  2. (used in singular or plural form) Persons in command; specifically, government.
    • 1927, F. E. Penny, chapter 4, in Pulling the Strings:
      The case was that of a murder. It had an element of mystery about it, however, which was puzzling the authorities. A turban and loincloth soaked in blood had been found; also a staff.
    • 2013 August 10, “Legal highs: A new prescription”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8848:
      No sooner has a [synthetic] drug been blacklisted than chemists adjust their recipe and start churning out a subtly different one. These “legal highs” are sold for the few months it takes the authorities to identify and ban them, and then the cycle begins again.
  3. (countable) A person accepted as a source of reliable information on a subject.
    the world's foremost authority on orangutans
    • 1930 September 18, Albert Einstein, as quoted in Albert Einstein: Creator and Rebel (1988) by Banesh Hoffman
      To punish me for my contempt of authority, Fate has made me an authority myself.
  4. Government-owned agency which runs a revenue-generating activity.
    New York Port Authority

Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

See alsoEdit


  • authority at OneLook Dictionary Search
  • authority in Keywords for Today: A 21st Century Vocabulary, edited by The Keywords Project, Colin MacCabe, Holly Yanacek, 2018.
  • authority in The Century Dictionary, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911.