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Webster 1913 Edition


Authority

Au-thor′i-ty

,
Noun.
;
pl.
Authorities
.
[OE.
autorite
,
auctorite
, F.
autorité
, fr. L.
auctoritas
, fr.
auctor
. See
Author
,
Noun.
]
1.
Legal or rightful power; a right to command or to act; power exercised buy a person in virtue of his office or trust; dominion; jurisdiction; authorization;
as, the
authority
of a prince over subjects, and of parents over children; the
authority
of a court.
Thus can the demigod,
Authority
,
Make us pay down for our offense.
Shakespeare
By what
authority
doest thou these things ?
Matt. xxi. 23.
2.
Government; the persons or the body exercising power or command;
as, the local
authorities
of the States; the military
authorities
.
[Chiefly in the plural.]
3.
The power derived from opinion, respect, or esteem; influence of character, office, or station, or mental or moral superiority, and the like; claim to be believed or obeyed;
as, an historian of no
authority
; a magistrate of great
authority
.
4.
That which, or one who, is claimed or appealed to in support of opinions, actions, measures, etc.
Hence:
(a)
Testimony; witness.
“And on that high authority had believed.”
Milton.
(b)
A precedent; a decision of a court, an official declaration, or an opinion, saying, or statement worthy to be taken as a precedent.
(c)
A book containing such a statement or opinion, or the author of the book.
(d)
Justification; warrant.
Wilt thou be glass wherein it shall discern
Authority
for sin, warrant for blame.
Shakespeare

Webster 1828 Edition


Authority

AUTHOR'ITY

,
Noun.
[L. auctoritas.]
1.
Legal power, or a right to command or to act; as the authority of a prince over subjects, and of parents over children. Power; rule; sway.
2.
The power derived from opinion, respect or esteem; influence of character or office; credit; as the authority of age or example, which is submitted to or respected, in some measure, as a law, or rule of action. That which is claimed in justification or support of opinions and measures.
3.
Testimony; witness; or the person who testifies; as, the Gospels or the evangelists are our authorities for the miracles of Christ.
4.
Weight of testimony; credibility; as a historian of no authority.
5.
Weight of character; respectability; dignity; as a magistrate of great authority in the city.
6.
Warrant; order; permission.
By what authority dost thou these things. Mat. 21. Acts 9.
7.
Precedents, decisions of a court, official declarations, respectable opinions and says, also the books that contain them, are call authorities, as they influence the opinions of others; and in law, the decisions of supreme courts have a binding force upon inferior courts, and are called authorities.
8.
Government; the persons or the body exercising power or command; as the local authorities of the states.
In Connecticut, the justices of the peace are denominated the civil authority.

Definition 2022


authority

authority

English

Alternative forms

Noun

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 terms

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Most common English words before 1923: terrible · Tom · author · #859: authority · pleasant · forget · break