[plen-uh-puh-ten-shee-er-ee, -shuh-ree]

noun, plural plen·i·po·ten·ti·ar·ies.

a person, especially a diplomatic agent, invested with full power or authority to transact business on behalf of another.


invested with full power or authority, as a diplomatic agent.
conferring or bestowing full power, as a commission.
absolute or full, as power.

Origin of plenipotentiary

From the Medieval Latin word plēnipotentiārius, dating back to 1635–45. See plenipotent, -i-, -ary Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for plenipotentiary

ambassador, diplomat, emissary, agent

Examples from the Web for plenipotentiary

Historical Examples of plenipotentiary

  • Thomas Jefferson came over to Paris as plenipotentiary in his stead.

    Benjamin Franklin

    Paul Elmer More

  • "Bismarck is my tool, my plenipotentiary," he declared to his friends.

  • And my uncle was there in his official capacity as a a plenipotentiary.


    Joseph Conrad and F.M. Hueffer

  • He was the plenipotentiary of a powerful religious order—no matter.


    Joseph Conrad and F.M. Hueffer

  • As a plenipotentiary extraordinary I admit I'm a teetotal failure.

    Sundry Accounts

    Irvin S. Cobb

British Dictionary definitions for plenipotentiary



(esp of a diplomatic envoy) invested with or possessing full power or authority
conferring full power or authority
(of power or authority) full; absolute

noun plural -aries

a person invested with full authority to transact business, esp a diplomat authorized to represent a countrySee also envoy 1 (def. 1)

Word Origin for plenipotentiary

C17: from Medieval Latin plēnipotentiārius, from Latin plēnus full + potentia power
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 plenipotentiary

1640s, from French plénipotentiaire and directly from Medieval Latin plenipotentiarius "having full power," from Late Latin plenipotens, from Latin plenus "full" (see plenary) + potentem "powerful" (see potent). As a noun from 1650s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper