Definition of plenipotentiary in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˌplɛnɪpəˈtɛnʃ(ə)ri/

noun (plural plenipotentiaries)

A person, especially a diplomat, invested with the full power of independent action on behalf of their government, typically in a foreign country.
Example sentences
  • Assistant commissars of foreign affairs, as well as ambassadors, plenipotentiaries, and consul-generals, also perished.
  • When the cardinals found themselves face to face with this contingency on the death of Clement IV in 1268, they commissioned six cardinals as plenipotentiaries to decide on a candidate.
  • Yet he recognized that he needed active assistants to break through the lines of bureaucratic retrenchment, and he often used plenipotentiaries to investigate, control, and bully on his behalf.


1Having full power to take independent action: [postpositive]: a minister plenipotentiary
More example sentences
  • A club owner/manager is plenipotentiary within his domain.
  • A senior Russian government official recently said Kim would visit Vladivostok and Khabarovsk at the invitation of Konstantin Pulikovsky, Putin's plenipotentiary representative in the Russian Far East.
  • At the same time, an extraordinary and plenipotentiary agency was formed in the USSR - the State Defense Committee.
1.1(Of power) absolute: he went armed with plenipotentiary powers, to take whatever measures he felt necessary
More example sentences
  • Since Southern rails were scarcely equipped to carry even essential supplies, endowing the quartermaster with this authority often meant giving him plenipotentiary power over most railroad activities.
  • His best known initiative, the appointment of royal commissioners, intendants, with plenipotentiary powers to inspect and enforce the royal will in the provinces, seems to have emerged as an unplanned pragmatic development.
  • A man who was almost unknown in August of last year, and who possesses no independent political biography, has filled the highest state post, with its immeasurable plenipotentiary powers.


Mid 17th century: from medieval Latin plenipotentiarius, from plenus 'full' + potentia 'power'.

Words that rhyme with plenipotentiary

evidentiary, penitentiary, residentiary

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: pleni|po¦ten|tiary

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