plethora

noun

pleth·​o·​ra ˈple-thə-rə How to pronounce plethora (audio)
1
: an ample amount or number : abundance, profusion
… Grand Cayman offers a plethora of bustling restaurants, ritzy resorts and comfortable condos …Susanne Cummings
… a world whose credibility is threatened by the meaningless plethora of material goods it goes on producing.W. Roy Niblett
2
: a bodily condition characterized by an excess of blood and marked by turgescence and a florid complexion
plethoric
plə-ˈthȯr-ik How to pronounce plethora (audio)
ple-
-ˈthär-;
ˈple-thə-rik
adjective

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."

Examples of plethora in a Sentence

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
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
… 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
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
A plethora of books have been written on the subject. a biology textbook that is helpfully illustrated with a plethora of excellent illustrations
Recent Examples on the Web The past several years have given us an absolute plethora of cosmic awe. Marina Koren, The Atlantic, 8 Apr. 2024 Cook and his team overcame a plethora of challenges that might have threatened the mission, including being robbed at gunpoint and getting lost in the rainforest. Ben Church, CNN, 8 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for plethora 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'plethora.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

circa 1541, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of plethora was circa 1541

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Cite this Entry

“Plethora.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/plethora. Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.

Medical Definition

plethora

noun
pleth·​o·​ra ˈpleth-ə-rə How to pronounce plethora (audio)
: a bodily condition characterized by an excess of blood and marked by turgescence and a reddish complexion
plethoric
plə-ˈthȯr-ik How to pronounce plethora (audio) ple- How to pronounce plethora (audio)
-ˈthär-; ˈpleth-ə-rik
adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on plethora

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