“I always try to project an image of authority.”

You're a teacher. You're explaining to a young first-year colleague how you manage your classes. You offer this sage advice.

I always try to project an image of authority.

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project an image of (a quality)

When you're talking about the real world, "project an image" means to shine light onto a surface to show a picture, like a slide show or a movie in a movie theater.

When you're talking about a person's actions and personality, to "project an image of ___" means to show other people a certain quality or personality trait. This phrase is only used for positive qualities, though. That's because "projecting an image" is something that a person does on purpose. Some qualities that people often project include:

project an image of confidence

project an image of authority (this person seems to be powerful and in-control)

project an image of wealth (this person seems to be rich)

project an image of approachability (you feel like you can talk to this person easily)

For negative qualities, instead of saying that a person "projects an image of ___", you can say that they "come off as ___":

He comes off as rude and hard to work with.

authority

"Authority" is the quality of being in control of things. A boss has authority over his or her employees. Parents have authority over their children. And people who are experts on a topic are sometime called "an authority on ___":

Gantz is a leading authority on Native American history and culture.

The word "authority" is used in several common phrases, including:

  • to respect (someone's) authority
  • a position of authority
  • authority figures (people who have authority)
  • have legal authority