I'm sorry if that question seems quite obvious for some of you, but I'm not native from english country and have some trouble with some expressions.

Today, I found this sentence :

In the end, all software systems that need any type of authorization will be authorizing against activities

In this context, I can't manage to understand the meaning of against, it is supposed to show some kind of opposition, but where do you find an opposition in this sentence?

2 Answers 2


In terms of software development, "authorizing against X" is common parlance for

determining your authorization, using X as the resource to make that determination.

It is a specific instance of "comparing against X" for the purpose of authorization.

As an example:

Once the user submits a password, we hash it and compare the value against the Password_Hashes table to determine if they're authorized.

is frequently shortened to be

The user's hashed password is authorized against the Password_Hashes table.

  • Thanks for the answer, that wasn't the first time I saw it but I always guessed the general meaning of the sentence.
    – Maniz
    Apr 10, 2014 at 15:28
  • Not to divert from ELU's purpose and discuss the finer points of software development, but in terms of comprehension, passwords are used for authentication; that is, providing information in support of identifying who you are to a computer. Once that has been successful, while using the product or service you are accessing your ability to perform actions will be subject to your authorisation; which describes what operations are available to the identity that you have assumed upon accessing the system. Both of these may be achieved when you log in but there is a semantic distinction.
    – naughtilus
    Jul 16, 2014 at 10:57

It doesn't make sense to me as a native speaker (who works in IT) either!

Maybe it's trying to say that software systems that require authorisation are moving to a model where all activities are blocked unless specifically authorised - BUT THAT IS ONLY A GUESS!

  • This is a bit extreme - all it is saying is that the system will restrict something. If not, why bother with the login? It could be as simple as allowing private files or directories. But any of that requires a complex system of tagging files and actions with rights and checking them.
    – Oldcat
    Apr 10, 2014 at 18:11

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