- a person who installs and repairs piping, fixtures, appliances, and appurtenances in connection with the water supply, drainage systems, etc., both in and out of buildings.
- Slang. an undercover operative or spy hired to detect or stop leaks of news or secret information, often using questionable or illegal methods, as illegal entry or wiretapping.
- Obsolete. a worker in lead or similar metals.
Origin of plumber
- 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
Examples from the Web for plumber
The NRA and Joe the Plumber view dead Americans as an acceptable loss so that they can have easy access to guns.It’s Time to Think Big or Shut Up on Gun Control
June 8, 2014
Then there was the statement I saw this week from “Joe the Plumber.”Joe the Plumber’s ‘Dead Kid’ Callousness
May 29, 2014
Anyone who has ever tried to get a plumber in Paris at that time of the year will know what I mean.Simon de Pury: Visiting 16 Studios of Los Angeles’s Top Artists
Simon de Pury
August 27, 2013
When a leak springs in her bathroom and she has to pay a kingly sum to the plumber, she Googles “how to get cash quick.”The First Great Internet Novel
July 13, 2013
The son of a Scottish plumber and raised in North London, Rod Stewart was obsessed with two things: football and R&B.11 Best Bits From Rod Stewart’s New Autobiography
The Daily Beast
October 22, 2012
(f) When a blacksmith, tinsmith, or plumber have tried to repair a case, Fig. 189.The Automobile Storage Battery
O. A. Witte
Why, a plumber would be ashamed to take as long as that over a job!Diary of a Pilgrimage
Jerome K. Jerome
It is below the dignity of my page to put a plumber on it, yet I have endured occasions!Journeys to Bagdad
Charles S. Brooks
You had better return to Plumber, or Saint George and the dragon.
You saw the fellow who let you in at the school gates, Plumber?
- a person who installs and repairs pipes, fixtures, etc, for water, drainage, and gas
- 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 plumber
late 14c. (from c.1100 as a surname), "a worker in any sort of lead" (roofs, gutters, pipes), from Old French plomier "lead-smelter" (Modern French plombier) and directly from Latin plumbarius "worker in lead," noun use of adjective meaning "pertaining to lead," from plumbum "lead" (see plumb (n.)). Meaning focused 19c. on "workman who installs pipes and fittings" as lead water pipes became the principal concern of the trade. In U.S. Nixon administration (1969-74), the name of a special unit for investigation of "leaks" of government secrets.
"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.