the power to determine, adjudicate, or otherwise settle issues or disputes; jurisdiction; the right to control, command, or determine.
a power or right delegated or given; :
Who has the authority to grant permission?
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.
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.
an accepted source of information, advice, etc.:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the leading authority on vaccines and immunizations.
a quotation or citation from such a source.
an expert on a subject:
He is an authority on baseball.
persuasive force; conviction:
She spoke with authority.
a statute, court rule, or judicial decision that establishes a rule or principle of law; a ruling.
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.
mastery in execution or performance, as of a work of art or literature or a piece of music.
a warrant for action; justification.
testimony; witness.
Contemporary Examples

authorities suspect it may be a rare case of self-inflicted death by a prominent CEO.
Swisscom Head Schloter Dies in Rare CEO Suicide Filipa Ioannou July 22, 2013

He was just another wannabe messiah who ended up on the wrong side of the authorities.
So-Called ‘Biblical Scholar’ Says Jesus A Made-Up Myth Candida Moss, Joel Baden October 4, 2014

German authorities are investigating an elaborate art-forgery ring that fooled the funnyman and even Christie’s experts.
Steve Martin’s Fake Campendonk: Germany’s Largest Art-Forgery Ring May 31, 2011

She says that since Gul comes from a poor agricultural family, she has been ignored by the authorities.
Afghanistan’s Rape Crisis: Villagers Fear U.S.-Backed Militias Sami Yousafzai, Ron Moreau May 21, 2013

When they went to the local police for help, they say, the authorities instead threatened them with arrests and violence.
How the U.S. Sold Out Indian Asylum Seekers on the Border Caitlin Dickson August 10, 2014

Historical Examples

The authorities of the village had moved away with the residents.
The King of the Mountains Edmond About

As to the possibility, however, the authorities are at loggerheads.
The Man Shakespeare Frank Harris

Nor was this the only irregularity for which the authorities of Pendennis were complained of.
Cornish Worthies, Volume 2 (of 2) Walter H. Tregellas

The authorities here have recommended him for promotion to the rank of Major.
Ridgeway Scian Dubh

As already suggested in 16, some of the authorities point to the sixth century.
The Lay of Havelok the Dane Unknown

noun (pl) -ties
the power or right to control, judge, or prohibit the actions of others
(often pl) a person or group of people having this power, such as a government, police force, etc
a position that commands such a power or right (often in the phrase in authority)
such a power or right delegated, esp from one person to another; authorization: she has his authority
the ability to influence or control others: a man of authority
an expert or an authoritative written work in a particular field: he is an authority on Ming china
evidence or testimony: we have it on his authority that she is dead
confidence resulting from great expertise: the violinist lacked authority in his cadenza
(capital when part of a name) a public board or corporation exercising governmental authority in administering some enterprise: Independent Broadcasting Authority

a judicial decision, statute, or rule of law that establishes a principle; precedent
legal permission granted to a person to perform a specified act


early 13c., autorite “book or quotation that settles an argument,” from Old French auctorité “authority, prestige, right, permission, dignity, gravity; the Scriptures” (12c.; Modern French autorité), from Latin auctoritatem (nominative auctoritas) “invention, advice, opinion, influence, command,” from auctor “master, leader, author” (see author (n.)).

Usually spelled with a -c- in English till 16c., when it was dropped in imitation of the French. Meaning “power to enforce obedience” is from late 14c.; meaning “people in authority” is from 1610s. Authorities “those in charge, those with police powers” is recorded from mid-19c.


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    the establishment and maintainance of consistent forms of terms, as of names, subjects, and titles, to be used as headings in bibliographic records.

  • Authority figure

    a person whose real or apparent authority over others inspires or demands obedience and emulation: Parents, teachers, and police officers are traditional authority figures for children. Contemporary Examples Muehl was of course the authority figure, with all resultant perks. The Life and Art of Radical Provocateur—and Commune Leader—Otto Muehl Anthony Haden-Guest September 21, 2014 The […]

  • Authority file

    a file, either on cards or in machine-readable format, in which decisions involving bibliographic records, particularly for form of entry, are recorded to establish a precedent or rule for subsequent decisions and to provide for consistency of entries.

  • Authorization

    the act of . permission or power granted by an ; sanction. a legislative act money to be spent for government programs that specifies a maximum spending level without provision for actual funds. Contemporary Examples Congress might vote on the authorization of force measure as soon as December. America United on Syria, for Now Michael […]

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