plenipotentiary was our Word of the Day on 11/06/2013. Hear the podcast!
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Recent Examples of plenipotentiary from the Web
After nearly a decade as Russia's ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary, arguably his country's most critical foreign emissary, the sixty-six-year-old is now a pariah in Washington.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'plenipotentiary.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Did You Know?
The adjective plenipotentiary is typically used, as in our second example, after the noun it modifies in the ranking of diplomatic hierarchy. Plenipotentiary gets its power from its Latin roots: plenus, meaning "full," and potens, "powerful." When government leaders dispatch their ambassador plenipotentiary, minister plenipotentiary, or envoy plenipotentiary, they are not just sending an agent to deal with foreign affairs but one having full power to act on the behalf of his or her country and government. The word extraordinary is also found in titles of government representatives-sometimes in combination with plenipotentiary (as in "Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary")-to denote an agent assigned to a particular (or extraordinary) diplomatic mission. Both the adjective and the noun plenipotentiary (meaning "a person invested with full power to transact business") appeared in the mid-17th century.
PLENIPOTENTIARY Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of plenipotentiary for English Language Learners
: a person (such as a diplomat) who has complete power to do business for a government
Learn More about plenipotentiary
Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about plenipotentiary
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