[uh-thawr-i-tee, uh-thor-]
noun, plural authorities.
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; authorization: Who has the authority to grant permission?
a person or body of persons in whom authority is vested, as a governmental agency.
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.
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.

1200–50; earlier auct(h)oritie < Latin auctōritās; replacing Middle English autorite < Old French < L. See author, -ity

antiauthority, adjective

1. rule, power, sway. Authority, control, influence denote a power or right to direct the actions or thoughts of others. Authority is a power or right, usually because of rank or office, to issue commands and to punish for violations: to have authority over subordinates. Control is either power or influence applied to the complete and successful direction or manipulation of persons or things: to be in control of a project. Influence is a personal and unofficial power derived from deference of others to one's character, ability, or station; it may be exerted unconsciously or may operate through persuasion: to have influence over one's friends. 3. sovereign, arbiter. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
authority (ɔːˈθɒrɪtɪ)
n , pl -ties
1.  the power or right to control, judge, or prohibit the actions of others
2.  (often plural) a person or group of people having this power, such as a government, police force, etc
3.  a position that commands such a power or right (often in the phrase in authority)
4.  such a power or right delegated, esp from one person to another; authorization: she has his authority
5.  the ability to influence or control others: a man of authority
6.  an expert or an authoritative written work in a particular field: he is an authority on Ming china
7.  evidence or testimony: we have it on his authority that she is dead
8.  confidence resulting from great expertise: the violinist lacked authority in his cadenza
9.  (capital when part of a name) a public board or corporation exercising governmental authority in administering some enterprise: Independent Broadcasting Authority
10.  law
 a.  a judicial decision, statute, or rule of law that establishes a principle; precedent
 b.  legal permission granted to a person to perform a specified act
[C14: from French autorité, from Latin auctōritas, from auctorauthor]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

early 13c., autorite "book or quotation that settles an argument," from O.Fr. auctorité (12c.; Mod.Fr. autorité), from L. auctoritatem (nom. auctoritas) "invention, advice, opinion, influence, command," from auctor "master, leader, author" (see author). 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.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
In time, the power of authors birthed the idea of authority and bred a culture
  of expertise.
It is all too easy to be satisfied with being the authority, the expert in your
At home he had unquestioned authority.
People always seem to recognize my authority.
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