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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."
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.
Note: The number of nations governed by parliaments has greatly increased in modern times.