Thursday, December 9, 2010

341 / Authority

I do like words. Take, for instance, the word "authority." The definition of the word "authority" is set out below. Please note that the word "authority" comes, ultimately, from the word "author." The etymology of the word thus reveals that "power" and "right," and the ability to rule, are all derived from "authorship."

Our "right to give orders" operates only within the world that we have created ourselves. Our authority does not extend, at least in any legitimate way, to a right to give orders in, or to exercise dominion over, the world of nature that we did not create.
Authority |əˈθôritē; ôˈθär-| (abbr.: auth.) noun ( pl. -ties)

1 the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience : he had absolute authority over his subordinates | positions of authority | they acted under the authority of the UN Security Council | a rebellion against those in authority. See note at jurisdiction .

• [often with infinitive ] the right to act in a specified way, delegated from one person or organization to another : military forces have the legal authority to arrest drug traffickers.

• official permission; sanction : the money was spent without congressional authority.

2 (often authorities) a person or organization having power or control in a particular, typically political or administrative, sphere : the health authorities | the Chicago Transit Authority | the authorities ordered all foreign embassies to close | she wasn't used to dealing with authority.

3 the power to influence others, esp. because of one's commanding manner or one's recognized knowledge about something : he has the natural authority of one who is used to being obeyed | he spoke with authority on the subject.

• the confidence resulting from personal expertise : he hit the ball with authority.

• a person with extensive or specialized knowledge about a subject; an expert : she was an authority on the stock market.

• a book or other source able to supply reliable information or evidence, typically to settle a dispute : the court cited a series of authorities supporting their decision.

have something on good authority have ascertained something from a reliable source : I have it on good authority that there is a waiting list of up to five weeks.

ORIGIN Middle English : from Old French autorite, from Latin auctoritas, from auctor ‘originator, promoter’ (see author).

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