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[plas-ter, plah-ster] /ˈplæs tər, ˈplɑ stər/
a composition, as of lime or gypsum, sand, water, and sometimes hair or other fiber, applied in a pasty form to walls, ceilings, etc., and allowed to harden and dry.
powdered gypsum.
a solid or semisolid preparation spread upon cloth, plastic, or other material and applied to the body, especially for some healing purpose.
verb (used with object)
to cover (walls, ceilings, etc.) with plaster.
to treat with gypsum or plaster of Paris.
to lay flat like a layer of plaster.
to daub or fill with plaster or something similar.
to apply a plaster to (the body, a wound, etc.).
to overspread with something, especially thickly or excessively:
a wall plastered with posters.
  1. to defeat decisively; trounce; drub.
  2. to knock down or injure, as by a blow or beating.
  3. to inflict serious damage or injury on by heavy bombing, shelling, or other means of attack.
Origin of plaster
before 1000; Middle English, Old English < Medieval Latin plastrum plaster (both medical and building senses), aphetic variant of Latin emplastrum < Greek émplastron salve, alteration of émplaston, neuter of émplastos daubed; see em-2, -plast
Related forms
plasterer, noun
plasteriness, noun
plasterlike, plastery, adjective
replaster, verb (used with object)
unplaster, verb (used with object) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for plaster


a mixture of lime, sand, and water, sometimes stiffened with hair or other fibres, that is applied to the surface of a wall or ceiling as a soft paste that hardens when dry
(Brit & Austral, NZ) an adhesive strip of material, usually medicated, for dressing a cut, wound, etc
to coat (a wall, ceiling, etc) with plaster
(transitive) to apply like plaster: she plastered make-up on her face
(transitive) to cause to lie flat or to adhere
(transitive) to apply a plaster cast to
(transitive) (slang) to strike or defeat with great force
Derived Forms
plasterer, noun
plastery, adjective
Word Origin
Old English, from Medieval Latin plastrum medicinal salve, building plaster, via Latin from Greek emplastron curative dressing, from em- + plassein to form
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 plaster

late Old English plaster "medicinal application," from Vulgar Latin plastrum, shortened from Latin emplastrum "a plaster" (in the medical as well as the building sense), from Greek emplastron "salve, plaster" (used by Galen instead of more usual emplaston), noun use of neuter of emplastos "daubed on," from en- "on" + plastos "molded," from plassein "to mold" (see plasma). The building construction material is first recorded in English c.1300, via Old French plastre, from the same source, and in early use the English word often had the French spelling.


"to coat with plaster," early 14c., from plaster (n.) and partly Old French plastrier "to cover with plaster" (Modern French plâtrer), from plastre (see plaster (n.). Related: Plastered; plastering. Figurative use from c.1600. Meaning "to bomb (a target) heavily" is first recorded 1915. Sports sense of "to defeat decisively" is from 1919.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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plaster in Medicine

plaster plas·ter (plās'tər)

  1. Plaster of Paris.

  2. A pastelike mixture applied to a part of the body for healing or cosmetic purposes.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for plaster



  1. A banknote, esp a one-dollar bill: If you need a couple of plasters until Ed gets out, tell me (1940s+)
  2. A person who surreptitiously follows another; shadow; tail: He probably knew he had a plaster by this time (1940s+)
  3. A subpoena or summons; arrest warrant (1950s+)


To cover or apply generously: They plastered the city with leaflets (1585+)

[money sense fr shinplaster, an early 19th-century term for ''currency of little value or very small denomination'']

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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