From responsible +‎ -ity. Although the components are of French origin, the compound appears to have been formed in English. Later-attested French responsabilité is modeled on the English word, and Italian responsabilità is in turn modeled on the French.


  • IPA(key): /ɹɪˌspɑnsəˈbɪlɪɾi/
  • (file)


responsibility (countable and uncountable, plural responsibilities)

  1. The state of being responsible, accountable, or answerable. [from 18th c.]
    Responsibility is a heavy burden.
  2. The state of being liable, culpable, or responsible for something in particular.
    • 2020 March, Joshua Leifer, “Led Astray”, in The Baffler[1], number 50:
      The vast majority of American Jews not only greatly dislike President Trump but also believe he has made them less safe: according to a May 2019 poll, nearly three-quarters of Jewish voters believe American Jews are less secure under Trump than they were before, 71 percent disapprove of Trump’s overall job performance, and nearly 60 percent believe that he bears at least some responsibility for the synagogue shootings carried out by white nationalists in Pittsburgh and Poway.
  3. A duty, obligation or liability for which someone is held accountable.
    Why didn't you clean the house? That was your responsibility!
    The responsibility of the great states is to serve and not to dominate the world - Harry S. Truman
    • 1961 May 9, Newton N. Minow, "Television and the Public Interest":
      If parents, teachers, and ministers conducted their responsibilities by following the ratings, children would have a steady diet of ice cream, school holidays, and no Sunday school.
  4. (military) The obligation to carry forward an assigned task to a successful conclusion. With responsibility goes authority to direct and take the necessary action to ensure success.
  5. (military) The obligation for the proper custody, care, and safekeeping of property or funds entrusted to the possession or supervision of an individual.


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