plau·​si·​ble | \ ˈplȯ-zə-bəl How to pronounce plausible (audio) \

Definition of plausible

1 : superficially fair, reasonable, or valuable but often specious a plausible pretext
2 : superficially pleasing or persuasive a swindler …  , then a quack, then a smooth, plausible gentleman— R. W. Emerson
3 : appearing worthy of belief the argument was both powerful and plausible

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Other Words from plausible

plausibleness noun
plausibly \ ˈplȯ-​zə-​blē How to pronounce plausible (audio) \ adverb

You Can Believe This History of Plausible

Today the word plausible usually means "reasonable" or "believable," but it once held the meanings "worthy of being applauded" and "approving." It comes to us from the Latin adjective plausibilis ("worthy of applause"), which in turn derives from the verb plaudere, meaning "to applaud or clap." Other "plaudere" descendants in English include "applaud," "plaudit" (the earliest meaning of which was "a round of applause"), and "explode" (from Latin explodere, meaning "to drive off the stage by clapping).

Examples of plausible in a Sentence

In our solar system, the biggest moon is Jupiter's Ganymede, which has a mass only 2.5 percent that of Earth—too small to easily hang on to an Earth-like atmosphere. But I realized that there are plausible ways for moons approaching the mass of Earth to form in other planetary systems, potentially around giant planets within their stars' habitable zones, where such moons could have atmospheres similar to our own planet. — René Heller, Scientific American, January 2015 I watch the ospreys who nest on Perch Island high atop their white spruce. Our sense of a plausible summer depends much on their diligent success at nest-building and procreation, and on their chicks fledging in late August. — Richard Ford, Wall Street Journal, 14-15 June 2008 … I'd mastered the quick size-up. Does the person seem agreeable over coffee at the drugstore counter and picking up his mail at the post office, drive a plausible vehicle, and know the weather forecast? — Edward Hoagland, Harper's, June 2007 … string theorists can exhibit plausible models of a unified Universe, but unfortunately they cannot explain why we inhabit a particular one. — Michael Atiyah, Nature, 22-29 Dec. 2005 it's a plausible explanation for the demise of that prehistoric species
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Recent Examples on the Web Not everything makes perfect sense, or seems remotely plausible. Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times, "A glossy new TV series set out to criticize ugly Americans. Instead, it embodies them," 30 Apr. 2021 All of that seems entirely plausible, especially this year, in which deGrom has burst off the starting blocks at a record-setting pace. New York Times, "An Ace Worth Watching, Win or (Too Often) Lose," 29 Apr. 2021 The jumbo size is plausible to Cole Miller, an astronomer at the University of Maryland, College Park, who works with NASA’s Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER), an x-ray telescope on the International Space Station. Adrian Cho, Science | AAAS, "Neutron stars may be bigger than expected, measurement of lead nucleus suggests," 27 Apr. 2021 But with more companies embracing remote work, the idea that workers will relocate to lower-tax locales is a little more plausible these days. Liz Farmer, Forbes, "Pressure Intensifies On Biden To Restore A Tax Break Weakened By Trump," 21 Apr. 2021 Escapes from certain jams also seems to go a little more smoothly than seems plausible, but those are minor quibbles. Andy Meek, BGR, "‘The Mosquito Coast’ is the next must-watch Apple TV+ series," 17 Apr. 2021 But the prospect of McConnell ever giving big business a hard time is less plausible even than the prospect of Rubio doing so. Timothy Noah, The New Republic, "Republicans Are Too Subservient to Corporate America to Wage War on “Woke Capitalism”," 8 Apr. 2021 Russian officials have already seized on the Suez Canal blockage to promote its Northern Sea Route, which has recently become a more plausible shipping route due to the impact of global warming. Washington Post, "The big ship is free, but the hard part isn’t over," 29 Mar. 2021 Compared to the rest of the panel, McHale’s theory is at least plausible. Ariana Brockington,, "The Masked Singer Orca Is Definitely A ’90s Rocker," 24 Mar. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'plausible.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of plausible

1565, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for plausible

Latin plausibilis worthy of applause, from plausus, past participle of plaudere

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Time Traveler for plausible

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The first known use of plausible was in 1565

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Last Updated

4 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Plausible.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for plausible



English Language Learners Definition of plausible

: possibly true : believable or realistic


plau·​si·​ble | \ ˈplȯ-zə-bəl How to pronounce plausible (audio) \

Kids Definition of plausible

: seeming to be reasonable a plausible excuse

Other Words from plausible

plausibly \ -​blē \ adverb

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