Definition of plenipotentiary in US English:



  • A person, especially a diplomat, invested with the full power of independent action on behalf of their government, typically in a foreign country.

    • ‘As soon as the meeting was over, the respective plenipotentiaries contacted reporters with near-verbatim accounts of the participants' behavior in a frantic series of accusations and denials, spiced with dollops of invective.’
    • ‘But 79 years later, its plenipotentiary was, courtesy of the New Zealand taxpayer, checking up on how it had all gone.’
    • ‘Hamilton served as British envoy extraordinary and plenipotentiary to the court of Naples starting in 1764.’
    • ‘Compromise therefore, and the implications this would have for personal reputations, was recognised as a sine qua non even before the plenipotentiaries left Dublin.’
    • ‘Assistant commissars of foreign affairs, as well as ambassadors, plenipotentiaries, and consul-generals, also perished.’
    • ‘I had to find titles, in English first editions usually, that would have been in the libraries of the great European satraps and plenipotentiaries like the Sforzas or the Borgias.’
    • ‘This is a land of plenty, not plenipotentiaries!’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A second version of events claimed that the problems in Veriaevo occurred due to the ‘tactless conduct’ of the plenipotentiaries involved in collectivization work.’
    • ‘Given a 20-year sentence for his role as Hitler's all-powerful armaments minister, the former architect turned plenipotentiary probably deserved a death sentence.’
    • ‘In 1814, he was named one of the four plenipotentiaries to the congress of Vienna and was created Marquis of Heusden by the king of Holland in 1818.’
    • ‘I see clerks, posterns, runners, drummers, administrative assistants and plenipotentiaries.’
    • ‘The plenipotentiaries agreed on various texts which established the parameters for the conduct of warfare.’
    • ‘There is hardly any mention, for example, of the portraits of two Dutch plenipotentiaries, Gaspar Meyer and, especially, Jacobus Blauw, a patriot of the left with Babouvist sympathies.’
    • ‘Once we call an election, who will vote for the West's plenipotentiaries?’
    • ‘Accordingly, in June 1797 plenipotentiaries from the two sides began peace talks in Lille.’
    • ‘The rumor which allegedly sparked the rebellion was that the plenipotentiaries were ‘gathering cattle to slaughter and ship to Moscow.’’
    • ‘For months now its plenipotentiaries have been negotiating with Iran about Tehran's nuclear programme.’
    • ‘Sir Henry Pottinger replaced Elliot as plenipotentiary, arriving in China in August 1841.’
    diplomat, representative
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  • 1Having full power to take independent action.

    postpositive ‘he represented the Japanese government in Seoul as minister plenipotentiary’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Between 275 and 271, Hieron was elected general, seized power as the result of a military coup, allied himself with the popular faction, and was perhaps elected general plenipotentiary.’
    • ‘Appointed minister plenipotentiary to Prussia by President Andrew Johnson in 1867, he lived in Berlin for the next seven years.’
    • ‘El-Orabi served as minister plenipotentiary and deputy chief of mission at the Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv from 1994 to 1998.’
    • ‘A club owner/manager is plenipotentiary within his domain.’
    • ‘At the same time, an extraordinary and plenipotentiary agency was formed in the USSR - the State Defense Committee.’
    • ‘The Department of External Affairs in Dublin specified it did not want a Nazi party member as German minister plenipotentiary to Ireland.’
    • ‘The Netherlands' Council of Ministers consists of the Dutch cabinet and two ministers plenipotentiary, one representing Aruba and the other the Netherlands Antilles.’
    • ‘Nevertheless, he accepted the appointment as minister plenipotentiary to France and on July 5, 1784, departed for Europe where he remained until 1789.’
    1. 1.1 (of power) absolute.
      • ‘To Britain a commission of inquiry, with plenipotentiary power, was despatched under Paul the Notary.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘On 8 September he sent his Chief of Intelligence, Colonel Hentsch, to see what was happening, with plenipotentiary powers to sort matters out.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The main initial difficulty was to secure from the Emperor the acceptance of Pottinger's demands that the imperial commissioners must have plenipotentiary powers, and that they must negotiate in person.’
      • ‘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.’
      unconditional, unlimited, unrestricted, unqualified, absolute, complete, sweeping, comprehensive
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Mid 17th century: from medieval Latin plenipotentiarius, from plenus ‘full’ + potentia ‘power’.