Difference Between Authority and Responsibility

Authority vs Responsibility

Authority and Responsibility are two words that are often confused due to the appearing similarity in their meanings. The word ‘authority’ is used in the sense of ‘power’. On the other hand, the word ‘responsibility’ is used in the sense of ‘duty’. This is the main difference between the two words.

Observe the two sentences:

1. He showed the signs of authority.

2. He exercised authority over the affairs of the state.

In both the sentences, you can find that the word ‘authority’ is used in the sense of ‘power’ and hence, the meaning of the first sentence would be ‘he showed the signs of power’, and the meaning of the second sentence would be ‘he exercised power over the affairs of the state’.

Observe the two sentences

1. He shoulders lots of responsibilities.

2. He was given the responsibility of maintaining discipline in the campus.

In both the sentences, you can find that the word ‘responsibility’ is used in the sense of ‘duty’ and hence, the meaning of the first sentence would be ‘he shoulders lots of duties’, and the meaning of the second sentence would be ‘he was given the duty of maintaining discipline in the campus’.

It is interesting to note that the word ‘authority’ has its adjectival form in the word ‘authoritative’. On the other hand, the word ‘responsibility’ has its adjectival form in the word ‘responsible’ as in the expression ‘responsible citizens’. Otherwise both the words, namely, authority and responsibility are used as noun forms.

It is important to know that the word ‘authority’ is sometimes used in the sense of ‘expert’ as in the sentence ‘he is an authority in astrology’. In this sentence, you can find that the word ‘authority’ is used in the sense of ‘expert’ and hence, the sentence can be rewritten as ‘he is an expert in astrology’.