plau·​si·​ble | \ ˈplȯ-zə-bəl How to pronounce plausible (audio) \

Essential Meaning of plausible

: possibly true : believable or realistic a plausible [=possible] conclusion a plausible excuse I thought her explanation was perfectly/entirely/completely plausible. [=I believed her explanation]

Full Definition of plausible

1 : superficially fair, reasonable, or valuable but often specious a plausible pretext
2 : superficially pleasing or persuasive a swindler …  , then a quack, then a smooth, plausible gentleman— R. W. Emerson
3 : appearing worthy of belief the argument was both powerful and plausible

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Other Words from plausible

plausibleness noun
plausibly \ ˈplȯ-​zə-​blē How to pronounce plausible (audio) \ adverb

You Can Believe This History of Plausible

Today the word plausible usually means "reasonable" or "believable," but it once held the meanings "worthy of being applauded" and "approving." It comes to us from the Latin adjective plausibilis ("worthy of applause"), which in turn derives from the verb plaudere, meaning "to applaud or clap." Other "plaudere" descendants in English include "applaud," "plaudit" (the earliest meaning of which was "a round of applause"), and "explode" (from Latin explodere, meaning "to drive off the stage by clapping).

Examples of plausible in a Sentence

In our solar system, the biggest moon is Jupiter's Ganymede, which has a mass only 2.5 percent that of Earth—too small to easily hang on to an Earth-like atmosphere. But I realized that there are plausible ways for moons approaching the mass of Earth to form in other planetary systems, potentially around giant planets within their stars' habitable zones, where such moons could have atmospheres similar to our own planet. — René Heller, Scientific American, January 2015 I watch the ospreys who nest on Perch Island high atop their white spruce. Our sense of a plausible summer depends much on their diligent success at nest-building and procreation, and on their chicks fledging in late August. — Richard Ford, Wall Street Journal, 14-15 June 2008 … I'd mastered the quick size-up. Does the person seem agreeable over coffee at the drugstore counter and picking up his mail at the post office, drive a plausible vehicle, and know the weather forecast? — Edward Hoagland, Harper's, June 2007 … string theorists can exhibit plausible models of a unified Universe, but unfortunately they cannot explain why we inhabit a particular one. — Michael Atiyah, Nature, 22-29 Dec. 2005 it's a plausible explanation for the demise of that prehistoric species
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Recent Examples on the Web Hey, Hoynsie: Could Bryan Reynolds be a plausible trade prospect for the Guardians? -- David England, Baton Rouge, La. Paul Hoynes, cleveland, 16 Oct. 2021 The more plausible scenario is that one of Garoppolo or Lance—more likely the former—will be available for the Sunday Night Football Clash at Levi's Stadium. Nicholas Mcgee, Forbes, 13 Oct. 2021 The most plausible scenario, Piquero said, is that the discussions continue to play out over the next few weeks, and Acevedo stays in office. Emma Tucker, CNN, 10 Oct. 2021 There are creditable scientists who regard a lab leak as a plausible scenario for the origin of COVID-19 in humans. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 8 Oct. 2021 With two more seasons of eligibility beginning in 2022, a more plausible scenario is that Rising returns for at least 2022 as a fifth-year junior. Josh Newman, The Salt Lake Tribune, 25 Sep. 2021 These two trends have produced a political environment in which the only plausible path for presidents to pass their major priorities is to achieve near- (or even complete) unity in their party. Ronald Brownstein, CNN, 5 Oct. 2021 One problem is that popular, superficially plausible theories are hard to stamp out, even if they are misguided. New York Times, 1 Oct. 2021 Does that sound plausible for a regime that considers business a servant of the state? The Editorial Board, WSJ, 30 Sep. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'plausible.' 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 plausible

1565, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for plausible

Latin plausibilis worthy of applause, from plausus, past participle of plaudere

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Time Traveler for plausible

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The first known use of plausible was in 1565

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Last Updated

19 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Plausible.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for plausible


plau·​si·​ble | \ ˈplȯ-zə-bəl How to pronounce plausible (audio) \

Kids Definition of plausible

: seeming to be reasonable a plausible excuse

Other Words from plausible

plausibly \ -​blē \ adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on plausible

Nglish: Translation of plausible for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of plausible for Arabic Speakers


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