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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

A judge dismissed the case a week later, saying, “Federal court only has authority of actual cases and controversies.”
Queen of the Birthers Max Blumenthal July 29, 2009

People in that capacity provide wisdom, but also unwanted judgment and authority.
John Slattery on the ‘Mad Men’ Midseason Finale, Roger Sterling’s Power Move, and ‘God’s Pocket’ Marlow Stern May 25, 2014

It can show stature and authority and also exude commonality.
Newt Gingrich’s Wife Callista’s Prissy Style Problem Robin Givhan December 12, 2011

The other, speaking with an air of authority, attributes it to the irresistible deliciousness of the McRib.
Left Behind at Borders Bill Morris April 21, 2011

But on Tuesday Putin asked the council to repeal the authority it had given him and on Wednesday it did just that.
Putin Waves a White Flag on Ukraine Anna Nemtsova June 24, 2014

Historical Examples

On the same ground might the authority of all elective political and other posts be questioned.
Freeland Theodor Hertzka

No man ventured to interfere with this lawful exercise of his authority.
Philothea Lydia Maria Child

Timberellus is explained, a small whale, on the authority of Skene, Vocab.
The Lay of Havelok the Dane Unknown

From that moment on, no Jew dared to question the authority of Moses.
Ancient Man Hendrik Willem van Loon

He was a great conservationist and an authority on the wild life of America.
Guide to Life and Literature of the Southwest J. Frank Dobie

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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