[ plan ]
/ plæn /
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See synonyms for: plan / planned / planning / plans on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object), planned, plan·ning.
verb (used without object), planned, plan·ning.
to make plans: to plan ahead; to plan for one's retirement.
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Origin of plan

First recorded in 1670–80; from French: “ground, plan, groundwork, scheme,” noun use of the adjective: “flat” (see plane1), a learned borrowing of Latin plānus “level” (cf. plain1)

synonym study for plan

1. Plan, project, design, scheme imply a formulated method of doing something. Plan refers to any method of thinking out acts and purposes beforehand: What are your plans for today? A project is a proposed or tentative plan, often elaborate or extensive: an irrigation project. Design suggests art, dexterity, or craft (sometimes evil and selfish) in the elaboration or execution of a plan, and often tends to emphasize the purpose in view: a misunderstanding brought about by design. A scheme is apt to be either a speculative, possibly impracticable, plan, or a selfish or dishonest one: a scheme to swindle someone.

historical usage of plan

The English noun plan comes from the French noun plan “a sketch, diagram, drawing, ground plan, plane surface,” from the adjective plan “flat, even, plane (in geometry).” French plan is a Latinized form of plain (with the same meanings), from the Latin adjective plānus “flat, level, horizontal, two-dimensional, plane (in geometry).” The French noun plan is also partly an alteration of the earlier French noun plant, a derivative of the verb planter “to plant, drive in, stick in, fix in place,” from Latin plantāre “to set in place, fix in place, plant, transplant.”
The meaning “an organized proposal or scheme of action” first appeared in 1635; the more etymological meaning “a drawing or diagram of an object made by projection on a horizontal plane” appeared in 1664.
The earliest citation for “a formal program for specified benefits” is first recorded in 1912, with specific reference to a savings plan.



plain, plan , plane

Other definitions for plan (2 of 2)


variant of plano-1 before a vowel: planate.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What is a basic definition of plan?

A plan is a program or method prepared ahead of time, a project or definite purpose, or a design or drawing of something. Plan has several other senses as a noun and a verb.

When you come up with a plan, you are creating a method or scheme to do something, make something, or take another kind of action, like a plan for getting your homework done. If someone does something without thinking about what to do, how to do it, and when to do it, they don’t have a plan. A plan doesn’t have to be written down, though. It may only exist in your mind. A person who comes up with a plan is a planner.

  • Real-life examples: Your school very likely has a plan for everyone leaving the building if there is a fire. Criminals often come up with a plan  of how they will steal something and when so that they will know what to do and be able to leave quickly.
  • Used in a sentence: The prisoners needed hot air balloons for their elaborate escape plan. 

Plan is used in this same sense as a verb to mean to scheme something ahead of time.

  • Used in a sentence: We planned a surprise party for my dad. 

Plan can also mean a project or definite purpose that someone has thought about or has scheduled to happen. In this sense, it is often used in the plural as plans.

  • Used in a sentence: She couldn’t go hiking with us because she had already made plans to travel to California.

Plan is also used as a synonym for diagram and blueprint. A plan of a warehouse, for example, will likely include drawings of the building’s layout or an outline of where wiring and pipes are located within the walls. Usually, an architect or designer will draw up a plan of a building or prototype so that the builders will know what to do.

  • Used in a sentence: The fire chief got the building plan from the janitor, so he could find the circuit breaker.

Where does plan come from?

The first records of plan come from the 1670s. It ultimately comes from the Latin adjective plānus, meaning “level.”

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What are some other forms related to plan?

What are some synonyms for plan?

What are some words that share a root or word element with plan

What are some words that often get used in discussing plan?

How is plan used in real life?

Plan is a common word that most often means a scheme or to think up a scheme beforehand.

Try using plan!

True or False?

A plan is a scheme made before something actually happens.

How to use plan in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for plan

/ (plæn) /

verb plans, planning or planned

Word Origin for plan

C18: via French from Latin plānus flat; compare plane 1, plain 1
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

Other Idioms and Phrases with plan


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.