- a small mass of lead or other heavy material, as that suspended by a line and used to measure the depth of water or to ascertain a vertical line.Compare plumb line.
- true according to a plumb line perpendicular.
- Informal. downright or absolute.
- in a perpendicular or vertical direction.
- exactly, precisely, or directly.
- Informal. completely or absolutely: She was plumb mad. You're plumb right.
- to test or adjust by a plumb line.
- to make vertical.
- Shipbuilding. horn(def 32).
- to sound with or as with a plumb line.
- to measure (depth) by sounding.
- to examine closely in order to discover or understand: to plumb someone's thoughts.
- to seal with lead.
- to weight with lead.
- to provide (a house, building, apartment, etc.) with plumbing.
- to work as a plumber.
- out of/off plumb, not corresponding to the perpendicular; out of true.
Origin of plumb
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
- J(ohn) H(arold),1911–2001, British historian.
Examples from the Web for plumb
He has no redeeming or (even complicating) qualities—no depths to plumb, no angles to survey, no gray areas to explore.Game of Thrones’ ‘The Lion and the Rose’: Joffrey’s Demented, Shocking Royal Wedding
April 14, 2014
Nearly 65 years after the fact, it's amazing how much of what we think we know about Britain's "finest" hour is just plumb wrong.Rethink Everything You Think You Know About World War II
February 10, 2013
In the “just plumb crazy” class, I put the business of his chaining his mug to the radiator to prevent its being stolen.Alan Turing’s Brother: He Should Be Alive Today
John Ferrier Turing
June 23, 2012
She believes her illness has bestowed on her a single-mindedness that causes her to plumb the same waters again and again.Josephine King Connects Madness and Art in London
May 1, 2012
Her companions stuck to the side of the road, but Suu Kyi walked into the middle, plumb in the line of fire.‘The Lady and the Peacock’: Peter Popham’s Biography Reveals the Real Aung San Suu Kyi
March 29, 2012
He'll be plumb stoop-shouldered if he don't hurry up and get the new kicked off of 'em.The Spenders
Harry Leon Wilson
It is the vertebra which steadies him plumb up to a positive perpendicular.
You bet I shut him up quick—saying a thing like that about a plumb stranger.Ruggles of Red Gap
Harry Leon Wilson
If all this newspaper stuff is so Albert was right all the time and I was plumb wrong.The Portygee
Joseph Crosby Lincoln
It's my sobri'ty that's my ondoin', that an' bein' plumb moral.Faro Nell and Her Friends
Alfred Henry Lewis
- a weight, usually of lead, suspended at the end of a line and used to determine water depth or verticality
- the perpendicular position of a freely suspended plumb line (esp in the phrases out of plumb, off plumb)
- (prenominal) informal, mainly US (intensifier)a plumb nuisance
- in a vertical or perpendicular line
- informal, mainly US (intensifier)plumb stupid
- informal exactly; precisely (also in the phrase plumb on)
- (tr often foll by up) to test the alignment of or adjust to the vertical with a plumb line
- (tr) to undergo or experience (the worst extremes of misery, sadness, etc)to plumb the depths of despair
- (tr) to understand or master (something obscure)to plumb a mystery
- to connect or join (a device such as a tap) to a water pipe or drainage system
Word Origin and History for plumb
"lead hung on a string to show the vertical line," early 14c., from Old French *plombe, plomee "sounding lead," and directly from Late Latin *plumba, originally plural of Latin plumbum "lead (the metal), lead ball; pipe; pencil," a word of unknown origin, related to Greek molybdos "lead" (dialectal bolimos) and perhaps from an extinct Mediterranean language, perhaps Iberian.
"perpendicular, vertical," mid-15c., from plumb (n.). The notion of "exact measurement" led to extended sense of "completely, downright" (1748), sometimes spelled plump, plum, or plunk.