In modern politics and history, a parliament is a legislative body of government. Generally, a modern parliament has three functions: representing the electorate, making laws, and overseeing the government via hearings and inquiries.
The term is similar to the idea of a senate, synod or congress, and is commonly used in countries that are current or former monarchies, a form of government with a monarch as the head. Some contexts restrict the use of the word parliament to parliamentary systems, although it is also used to describe the legislature in some presidential systems (e.g. the French parliament), even where it is not in the official name.
Historically, parliaments included various kinds of deliberative, consultative, and judicial assemblies, e.g. medieval parlements.
The English term is derived from Anglo-Norman and dates to the 14th century, coming from the 11th century Old French parlement, from parler, meaning "to talk". The meaning evolved over time, originally referring to any discussion, conversation, or negotiation through various kinds of deliberative or judicial groups, often summoned by a monarch. By the 15th century, in Britain, it had come to specifically mean the legislature.