Word of the day – Plenary

Word of the Day : March 31, 2020


adjective | PLEN-uh-ree


1: Complete in every respect: absolute, qualified
2: fully attended or constituted by all entitled to be present

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 many 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 using plenary

“The President always retains the plenary power granted to him by the Constitution to pardon or commute sentences, and does so at his sole discretion, guided when he sees fit by the advice of the Pardon Attorney.” — Nicole Navas, quoted in The Washington Post, 3 Feb. 2020

“The UK is scheduled to leave the European Union this Friday once the European Parliament gave their assent to the Withdrawal Agreement in a special plenary vote on Wednesday.” — Aurora Bosotti, The Express (UK), 27 Jan. 2020