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[pahr-luh-muh nt or, sometimes, pahrl-yuh-] /ˈpɑr lə mənt or, sometimes, ˈpɑrl yə-/
(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.
(usually initial capital letter) the legislature of certain British colonies and possessions.
a legislative body in any of various other countries.
French History. any of several high courts of justice in France before 1789.
a meeting or assembly for conference on public or national affairs.
Cards. fan-tan (def 1).
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 forms
antiparliament, adjective
interparliament, adjective
subparliament, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for parliaments
  • To serve each region, there are five regional parliaments in addition to the national one.
  • Countries with parliaments elected by proportional representation are often cursed with myriad political groups.
  • The king appoints the upper house, chooses the prime minister and cabinet, and can dissolve parliaments he dislikes.
  • Maybe something different is needed, such as a bigger role for national parliaments.
  • In all cases, parliaments are sidelined and used as rubber stamps.
  • The fourth part will take a long time to complete: it will involve new treaties and approval by parliaments and voters.
  • The commission said budget plans and economic reforms should be subject to peer review before they reach national parliaments.
  • The generals have also signaled that they do not expect this or any future parliaments to enjoy much oversight of the military.
  • National parliaments must approve any changes to the stability fund's structure.
  • They have been negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world's trading nations and approved by their parliaments.
British Dictionary definitions for parliaments


an assembly of the representatives of a political nation or people, often the supreme legislative authority
any legislative or deliberative assembly, conference, etc
Also parlement. (in France before the Revolution) any of several high courts of justice in which royal decrees were registered
Word Origin
C13: from Anglo-Latin parliamentum, from Old French parlement, from parler to speak; see parley


the highest legislative authority in Britain, consisting of the House of Commons, which exercises effective power, the House of Lords, and the sovereign
a similar legislature in another country
the two chambers of a Parliament
the lower chamber of a Parliament
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
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Word Origin and History for parliaments



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
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parliaments in Culture
parliament [(pahr-luh-muhnt)]

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.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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