- Liable to be required to give account, as of one's actions or of the discharge of a duty or trust.
- Involving personal accountability or ability to act without guidance or superior authority: a responsible position within the firm.
- Being a source or cause.
- Able to make moral or rational decisions on one's own and therefore answerable for one's behavior.
- Able to be trusted or depended upon; reliable.
- Based on or characterized by good judgment or sound thinking: responsible journalism.
- Having the means to pay debts or fulfill obligations.
- Required to render account; answerable: The cabinet is responsible to the parliament.
[Obsolete French, corresponding to, from Latin respÅnsus, past participle of respondÄ“re, to respond. See respond.]responsibleness reÂ·spon'siÂ·bleÂ·ness n.
responsibly reÂ·spon'siÂ·bly adv.
SYNONYMS responsible, answerable, liable, accountable, amenable. These adjectives share the meaning obliged to answer, as for one's actions, to an authority that may impose a penalty for failure. Responsible often implies the satisfactory performance of duties or the trustworthy care for or disposition of possessions: â€œI am responsible for the ship's safetyâ€ (Robert Louis Stevenson). Answerable suggests a moral or legal responsibility subject to review by a higher authority: The court held the parents answerable for their minor child's acts of vandalism. Liable may refer to a legal obligation, as to pay damages or to perform jury duty: Wage earners are liable to income tax. Accountable especially emphasizes giving an account of one's discharge of a responsibility: â€œThe liberal philosophy holds that enduring governments must be accountable to someone beside themselvesâ€ (Walter Lippmann). Amenable implies being subject to the control of an authority and therefore the absence of complete autonomy: â€œThere is no constitutional tribunal to which [the king] is amenableâ€ (Alexander Hamilton). See also synonyms at reliable.
USAGE NOTE Some critics have maintained that responsible should not be used to describe things, since only persons can be held accountable. The application to things is justifiable, however, when responsible is used to mean â€œbeing the source or cause of.â€ In an earlier survey, a majority of the Usage Panel accepted the sentence Faulty construction was responsible for the crash.