View synonyms for plan



[ plan ]


  1. a scheme or method of acting, doing, proceeding, making, etc., developed in advance:

    battle plans.

    Synonyms: system, formula, plot

  2. a design or scheme of arrangement:

    an elaborate plan for seating guests.

  3. a specific project or definite purpose:

    plans for the future.

  4. Also called plan view. a drawing made to scale to represent the top view or a horizontal section of a structure or a machine, as a floor layout of a building.

    Synonyms: chart, diagram, draft, sketch

  5. a representation of a thing drawn on a plane, as a map or diagram:

    a plan of the dock area.

  6. (in perspective drawing) one of several planes in front of a represented object, and perpendicular to the line between the object and the eye.
  7. a formal program for specified benefits, needs, etc.:

    a pension plan.

verb (used with object)

, planned, plan·ning.
  1. to arrange a method or scheme beforehand for (any work, enterprise, or proceeding):

    to plan a new recreation center.

    Synonyms: plot, devise, design

  2. to make plans for:

    to plan one's vacation.

  3. to draw or make a diagram or layout of, as a building.

verb (used without object)

, planned, plan·ning.
  1. to make plans:

    to plan ahead; to plan for one's retirement.


  1. variant of plano- 1 before a vowel:



/ plæn /


  1. a detailed scheme, method, etc, for attaining an objective
  2. sometimes plural a proposed, usually tentative idea for doing something
  3. a drawing to scale of a horizontal section through a building taken at a given level; a view from above an object or an area in orthographic projection Compare ground plan elevation
  4. an outline, sketch, etc
  5. (in perspective drawing) any of several imaginary planes perpendicular to the line of vision and between the eye and object depicted


  1. to form a plan (for) or make plans (for)
  2. tr to make a plan of (a building)
  3. tr; takes a clause as object or an infinitive to have in mind as a purpose; intend

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Other Words From

  • planless adjective
  • planless·ness noun
  • mis·plan verb misplanned misplanning
  • outplan verb (used with object) outplanned outplanning
  • over·plan verb overplanned overplanning
  • pre·plan verb preplanned preplanning
  • re·plan verb (used with object) replanned replanning
  • under·plan verb (used with object) underplanned underplanning
  • un·plan verb (used with object) unplanned unplanning
  • well-planned adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of plan1

First recorded in 1670–80; from French: “ground, plan, groundwork, scheme,” noun use of the adjective: “flat” ( plane 1 ), a learned borrowing of Latin plānus “level” ( plain 1 )

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Word History and Origins

Origin of plan1

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

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Idioms and Phrases

In addition to the idiom beginning with plan , also see best-laid plans .

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Synonym Study

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.

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Example Sentences

At UNC-Chapel Hill, those plans were quickly reversed when 130 students tested positive for the virus just a week into the new semester.

The plan envisioned Oracle as a minority shareholder, thus mollifying Beijing.

From Fortune

If these reported plans were to go forward, it would be difficult to see how these conditions could be met.

From Fortune

Dhere calls the live vaccine something of a backup plan for the Serum Institute.

When he told a voter earlier in the night that he had a health-care plan ready to go, Stephanopoulos noted it had been “three and a half years” without one passing.

The plan is to stretch it out as long as possible, then probably forget about it, and then suddenly remember it.

Did the airline file a flight plan that took account of the weather en route from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore?

The various members met for the first time when they traveled to Gambia at the beginning of December to carry out their plan.

Her new comments will only add to ongoing speculation that the Yorks plan, one day, to remarry.

The family behind Sotto Sotto says that they plan to rebuild, but an insider tells me it may be a while.

They shall plan how this may be done with due propriety, and shall advise us of their action.

Gordon gave a bitter laugh and went on, with the same strange, serious air of explaining his plan.

Joachim, as time showed, never forgave the Emperor for the failure of his cherished plan.

Ripperda's attention was next directed to put his plan of escape, in train for execution.

Still another kind of war credit bank was created on the co-operative plan to assist the middle and lower classes.


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More About Plan

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.”

Did you know ... ?

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.

Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

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