[pahr-luh-muh nt or, sometimes, pahrl-yuh-]
See more synonyms for parliament on
  1. (usually initial capital letter) the legislature of Great Britain, historically the assembly of the three estates, now composed of Lords Spiritual and Lords Temporal, forming together the House of Lords, and representatives of the counties, cities, boroughs, and universities, forming the House of Commons.
  2. (usually initial capital letter) the legislature of certain British colonies and possessions.
  3. a legislative body in any of various other countries.
  4. French History. any of several high courts of justice in France before 1789.
  5. a meeting or assembly for conference on public or national affairs.
  6. Cards. fan-tan(def 1).

Origin of parliament

1250–1300; Middle English: discourse, consultation, Parliament < Anglo-Latin parliamentum, alteration of Medieval Latin parlāmentum < Old French parlement a speaking, conference (see parle, -ment); replacing Middle English parlement < Old French
Related formsan·ti·par·lia·ment, adjectivein·ter·par·lia·ment, adjectivesub·par·lia·ment, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for parliament

court, gathering, assembly, congress, diet, council, assemblage, senate

Examples from the Web for parliament

Contemporary Examples of parliament

Historical Examples of parliament

  • I can hardly think that Parliament will adopt a different view.

  • This period, beginning with 1840, has been styled "a memorable decade" in the history of Parliament.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

  • Three weeks later Parliament was dissolved by Royal commission.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

  • It was not until the brief session of 1847, that he appeared again in Parliament.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

  • Other relatives followed, and then most of the members of Parliament.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

British Dictionary definitions for parliament


  1. an assembly of the representatives of a political nation or people, often the supreme legislative authority
  2. any legislative or deliberative assembly, conference, etc
  3. Also: parlement (in France before the Revolution) any of several high courts of justice in which royal decrees were registered

Word Origin for parliament

C13: from Anglo-Latin parliamentum, from Old French parlement, from parler to speak; see parley


  1. the highest legislative authority in Britain, consisting of the House of Commons, which exercises effective power, the House of Lords, and the sovereign
  2. a similar legislature in another country
  3. the two chambers of a Parliament
  4. the lower chamber of a Parliament
  5. any of the assemblies of such a body created by a general election and royal summons and dissolved before the next election
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for parliament

c.1300, "consultation; formal conference, assembly," from Old French parlement (11c.), originally "a speaking, talk," from parler "to speak" (see parley (n.)); spelling altered c.1400 to conform with Medieval Latin parliamentum.

Anglo-Latin parliamentum is attested from early 13c. Specific sense "representative assembly of England or Ireland" emerged by mid-14c. from general meaning "a conference of the secular and/or ecclesiastical aristocracy summoned by a monarch."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

parliament in Culture



An assembly of representatives, usually of an entire nation, that makes laws. Parliaments began in the Middle Ages in struggles for power between kings and their people. Today, parliaments differ from other kinds of legislatures in one important way: some of the representatives in the parliament serve as government ministers, in charge of carrying out the laws that the parliament passes. Generally, a parliament is divided by political parties, and the representative who leads the strongest political party in the parliament becomes the nation's head of government. This leader is usually called the prime minister or premier. Typically, a different person — usually a king, queen, or president — is head of state, and this person's duties are usually more ceremonial than governmental.


The number of nations governed by parliaments has greatly increased in modern times.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.