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[ri-spon-suh-buh l] /rɪˈspɒn sə bəl/
answerable or accountable, as for something within one's power, control, or management (often followed by to or for):
He is responsible to the president for his decisions.
involving accountability or responsibility, as in having the power to control or manage:
promoted to a responsible position in the firm.
chargeable with being the author, cause, or occasion of something (usually followed by for):
Termites were responsible for the damage.
having a capacity for moral decisions and therefore accountable; capable of rational thought or action:
The defendant is not responsible for his actions.
able to discharge obligations or pay debts.
reliable or dependable, as in meeting debts, conducting business dealings, etc.
(of a government, member of a government, government agency, or the like) answerable to or serving at the discretion of an elected legislature or the electorate.
Origin of responsible
1590-1600; < Latin respōns(us) (see response) + -ible
Related forms
responsibleness, noun
responsibly, adverb
interresponsible, adjective
nonresponsible, adjective
nonresponsibleness, noun
nonresponsibly, adverb
preresponsible, adjective
quasi-responsible, adjective
quasi-responsibly, adverb
superresponsible, adjective
superresponsibleness, noun
superresponsibly, adverb
unresponsible, adjective
unresponsibleness, noun
unresponsibly, adverb
1. liable. 4. competent. 5. solvent. 6. honest, capable, reliable, trustworthy. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for responsible
  • Winner is responsible for all federal, state and local income taxes, if applicable.
  • Most of us embrace the concept of ecologically responsible gardening.
  • It's the plant responsible for the cloud of small lavender flowers pictured above.
  • She wants to know who is responsible for this display.
  • Psychic treatment cannot be held responsible for the continued presence of diphtheritic affection.
  • If these bosses were responsible for nothing but pure wickedness, they would probably last but a short time in any community.
  • These circles consisted of groups of workers who sought to improve the processes that they were responsible for in four stages.
  • In earlier trials prosecutors have often had to show that the defendants were responsible for specific, especially grisly crimes.
  • And too many power groups today are not responsible.
  • Anyway, politicians cannot fairly be held responsible for outright fraud.
British Dictionary definitions for responsible


(postpositive) usually foll by for. having control or authority (over)
(postpositive) foll by to. being accountable for one's actions and decisions (to): to be responsible to one's commanding officer
(of a position, duty, etc) involving decision and accountability
(often foll by for) being the agent or cause (of some action): to be responsible for a mistake
able to take rational decisions without supervision; accountable for one's own actions: a responsible adult
able to meet financial obligations; of sound credit
Derived Forms
responsibleness, noun
responsibly, adverb
Word Origin
C16: from Latin rēsponsus, from rēspondēre to respond
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for responsible

1590s, "answerable" (to another, for something), from obsolete French responsible (13c., Modern French responsable, as if from Latin *responsabilis), from Latin respons-, past participle stem of respondere "to respond" (see respond). Meaning "accountable for one's actions" is attested from 1640s; that of "reliable, trustworthy" is from 1690s. Retains the sense of "obligation" in the Latin root word. Related: Responsibly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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