ple·​na·​ry | \ ˈple-nə-rē How to pronounce plenary (audio) also ˈplē- How to pronounce plenary (audio) \

Definition of plenary

1 : complete in every respect : absolute, unqualified plenary power
2 : fully attended or constituted by all entitled to be present a plenary session

Choose the Right Synonym for plenary

full, complete, plenary, replete mean containing all that is wanted or needed or possible. full implies the presence or inclusion of everything that is wanted or required by something or that can be held, contained, or attained by it. a full schedule complete applies when all that is needed is present. a complete picture of the situation plenary adds to complete the implication of fullness without qualification. given plenary power replete implies being filled to the brim or to satiety. replete with delightful details

Did you know?

In the 14th century, the monk Robert of Brunne described a situation in which all the knights of King Arthur's Round Table were present at court by writing, "When Arthures court was plener, and alle were comen, fer and ner.…" For many years, plener (also spelled plenar) served English well for both senses that we reserve for plenary today. But we'd borrowed plener from Anglo-French, and, although the French had relied on Latin plenus ("full") for their word, the revival of interest in the Classics during the English Renaissance led scholars to prefer purer Latin origins. In the 15th century, English speakers turned to Late Latin plenarius and came up with plenary. (Plenarius also comes from plenus, which is the source of our plenty and replenish as well.)

Examples of plenary in a Sentence

A plenary meeting of the 500 members was held last summer. plenary sessions of the legislature
Recent Examples on the Web The proposals passed after an eleventh-hour watering down, negotiated in plain sight in the plenary room. Ewa Krukowska, Fortune, 13 Nov. 2021 It is expected that Mr. Kim will deliver a policy speech, outlining North Korea’s 2022 plans, either at the plenary session or potentially in a Jan. 1 address. Timothy W. Martin, WSJ, 30 Dec. 2021 The Constitution gives the House plenary power to decide whether to proceed with impeachment articles, so the House could decide what to do after the committee’s work is done. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, 14 Feb. 2022 The question was raised at seven of the eight plenary sessions at the Yalta Conference, in early 1945, and wasn’t settled there or at the Potsdam Conference that summer. Jeffrey Frank, The New Yorker, 4 Feb. 2022 In both instances, the law of the land gives white men on horseback plenary power over Black people in flight for survival. Alicia Schmidt Camacho, The New Yorker, 19 Jan. 2022 On Monday, Kim opened a plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party to review past projects and determine major policies for next year., 30 Dec. 2021 There are plenary of other examples of successful payment schemes evolving into super apps. David G.w. Birch, Forbes, 4 Jan. 2022 Other North Korea analysts said Mr. Kim’s plenary speech highlighted where the country’s priorities were—and weren’t—at the moment. Timothy W. Martin, WSJ, 1 Jan. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of plenary

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for plenary

Middle English, from Late Latin plenarius, from Latin plenus full — more at full

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The first known use of plenary was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

11 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Plenary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for plenary


ple·​na·​ry | \ ˈplē-nə-rē, ˈple- How to pronounce plenary (audio) \

Legal Definition of plenary

: full and complete in every respect: as
a : absolute sense 1 plenary power
b : fully attended or constituted a plenary session of the legislature
c : including all steps in due order a plenary proceeding — compare summary

More from Merriam-Webster on plenary

Britannica English: Translation of plenary for Arabic Speakers


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