Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Approve and Authorize

Difference Between Approve and Authorize

Approve vs. Authorize

‘Approve’ and ‘authorize’ are both English verbs that pertain to a demonstration of affirmation towards an act or object. They are, however, two distinct verbs used in different contexts.

By definition, to approve means to confirm, ratify, or sanction officially, or to commend or regard as good. It is an expression of acceptance towards a favorable or pleasing thing or action. On the other hand, ‘authorize’, also spelled ‘authorise’ in British English, means to grant clearance for, to delegate power to, or to pass. Other than being an affirmative expression, it is also a proactive extension of authority to another person or action for the purpose of pursuing favorable endeavors. In essence, ‘authorize’ has an addition layer to it – it approves and at the same time empowers to pursue what has been approved. It sounds more commanding than to approve.

When one says: ‘I authorize you to air the show on TV’, it means that first, they approve of the show’s suitability for TV, and second, they have the power to allow the airing and choose to extend it to the owners of the show. In this case, the statement would have probably come from an executive head, a TV network owner, or anyone with great influence in the TV industry.

On the other hand, if one says: ‘I approve of the airing of the show on TV’, it means that they finds it acceptable to air the show on TV. The person does not necessarily have to have authoritative rights to be able to say this; anyone – from a lowly TV fan to a cable top dog – can say and mean the statement.

In another example that says, ‘Most people approve the anti-theft policy’, what is means is that the people regard the policy favorably, but doesn’t necessarily mean that theirs was the same consent that brought it to being. Conversely, if the sentence says: ‘The people authorized the anti-theft policy’, it is then assumed that the people indeed have a say in policies to be employed and choose to put said policy into practice.

Difference Between Approve and Authorize-1

On another note, ‘approve’ is more appropriate in addressing something from a detached point of view. For example, when one says ‘I approve your marriage’ or ‘She approves the new health bill’, there is a virtual distance between the one approving and what is being approved; the approver sees and thinks of it from an outsider’s viewpoint. Additionally, the approver has no real direct involvement to the subject. With ‘authorize’, there should be a close involvement between the authorizer and the one being authorized. The former practically extends his power to the latter, so that through such extended power, the authorizer will be able to reinforce what he approves of. For instance, in the statement ‘I authorize the prohibition of cigarette smoking in public vehicles’, the speaker empowers the act of prohibiting cigarette smoking and, in effect, implements it in the area; this person may be the city mayor or anyone who has a dominant say in the execution of major projects. In ‘I authorize you to sell all my properties’, even though the speaker passes on their consent to another person, it is still their authority that will be responsible in the act of selling all their properties.


  1. ‘Authorize’ and ‘approve’ are both verbs that pertain to an affirmative reaction toward an object or action.
  2. To approve means to confirm or to commend, while to authorize means to empower.
  3. ‘Approve’ is a mere expression of acceptance toward a favorable object. ‘Authorize’ is an approval and, at the same time, a proactive extension of power for the purpose of pursuing what is being approved.
  4. Approval is an affirmation from a detached viewpoint, while authorization has a more apparent and direct involvement.

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