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

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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 200 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 machine—called a plenary mixer—was likely hit as preparations were being made to move it to a secure location, according to Israel’s Haaretz. Joseph Hincks, Time, "Israel Is Escalating Its Shadow War With Iran. Here's What to Know," 29 Aug. 2019 The move isn’t final but is a key sign before an official decision at its plenary this week. Washington Post, "Extinction bites: countries agree to protect sharks and rays," 25 Aug. 2019 The vote by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITIES) at the World Wildlife Conference paves the way for the measure's likely approval by its plenary next week. Fox News, "Wildlife committee votes to protect giraffes as endangered species for the first time," 23 Aug. 2019 Albert Zeufack, the World Bank’s chief Africa economist, said at a plenary session at the forum. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "What an African free-trade deal means for the world," 9 Sep. 2019 The vote still needs to be finalized at the plenary session at the end, when all appendix change proposals passed in committee are officially adopted. Rachel Fobar, National Geographic, "Proposal to open up rhino horn trade rejected," 25 Aug. 2019 The move isn’t final but is a key sign before an official decision at its plenary this coming week. Maria Cheng And Jamey Keaten, USA TODAY, "'Critically endangered': Countries come together in efforts to protect sharks and rays," 25 Aug. 2019 The proportion of questions asked by women following invited and plenary talks was similar to that seen in prior years. Melissa Healystaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "In science, questions matter a lot. Men are more likely than women to ask them," 26 July 2019 Instead, the conference in Bahrain features a set of glitzy plenary speeches and panels, including various business leaders and bigwigs such as International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde and former British prime minister Tony Blair. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "Forget peace. Trump and Israel want Palestinian surrender.," 26 June 2019

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.

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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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Last Updated

22 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for plenary

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

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More Definitions for plenary


How to pronounce plenary (audio) How to pronounce plenary (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of plenary

: attended by all the people who have the right to attend
: complete in every way


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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for plenary

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with plenary

Britannica English: Translation of plenary for Arabic Speakers

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a calculated move

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