noun pleth·o·ra \ˈple-thə-rə\

Definition of plethora

  1. 1 :  a bodily condition characterized by an excess of blood and marked by turgescence and a florid complexion

  2. 2 :  excess, superfluity; also :  profusion, abundance


play \plə-ˈthȯr-ik, ple-, -ˈthär-; ˈple-thə-rik\ adjective

plethora was our Word of the Day on 06/22/2009. Hear the podcast!

Examples of plethora in a sentence

  1. There has been a plethora of plays in recent years whose claim to modernity is based on indicated rather than felt emotion. —Arthur Miller, Harper's, March 1999

  2. The plethora of short-lived ceasefires in the Balkans and the Caucasus constitute proof that we are no longer in a world where the old rules of state warfare apply. —Robert D. Kaplan, Atlantic, February 1994

  3. In their view, there are the very few hard-pressed good guys losing the landscape to a plethora of bad guys. —Carol Bly, Letters from the Country, 1981

  4. … served at the long plank table in the banquet hut, amid a plethora of toasts to progress, amity, and the overthrow of imperialism—the meal passed in a blur. —John Updike, Trust Me, (1962) 1987

  5. A plethora of books have been written on the subject.

  6. a biology textbook that is helpfully illustrated with a plethora of excellent illustrations

Did You Know?

Plethora comes from a similar Greek word meaning "fullness." It was first used in English in the 16th century to describe a supposed medical condition marked by an excess volume of blood causing swelling and a reddish complexion. Later, the medical use of "plethora" was extended to indicate related medical conditions (such as an excess volume of bodily fluid or the red-skinned appearance of some newborns). These days, however, "plethora" is more often used in a general, non-medical sense, with the meaning "excess" or "abundance."

Origin and Etymology of plethora

Medieval Latin, from Greek plēthōra, literally, fullness, from plēthein to be full — more at full

First Known Use: 1541

PLETHORA Defined for English Language Learners


noun pleth·o·ra \ˈple-thə-rə\

Definition of plethora for English Language Learners

  • : a very large amount or number : an amount that is much greater than what is necessary

Medical Dictionary


noun pleth·o·ra \ˈpleth-ə-rə\

Medical Definition of plethora

  1. :  a bodily condition characterized by an excess of blood and marked by turgescence and a reddish complexion


\plə-ˈthȯr-ik, ple-, -ˈthär-; ˈpleth-ə-rik\play play adjective

Seen and Heard

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capable of being understood in two ways

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