See more synonyms for plank on
  1. a long, flat piece of timber, thicker than a board.
  2. lumber in such pieces; planking.
  3. something to stand on or to cling to for support.
  4. any one of the stated principles or objectives comprising the political platform of a party campaigning for election: They fought for a plank supporting a nuclear freeze.
verb (used with object)
  1. to lay, cover, or furnish with planks.
  2. to bake or broil and serve (steak, fish, chicken, etc.) on a wooden board.
  3. plunk(def 2).
  1. walk the plank,
    1. to be forced, as by pirates, to walk to one's death by stepping off a plank extending from the ship's side over the water.
    2. to relinquish something, as a position, office, etc., under compulsion: We suspect that the new vice-president walked the plank because of a personality clash.

Origin of plank

1275–1325; Middle English planke < Old North French < Latin planca board, plank. See planch
Related formsplank·less, adjectiveplank·like, adjectiveun·planked, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for plank

platform, lumber, slab, timber, support, deal

Examples from the Web for plank

Contemporary Examples of plank

Historical Examples of plank

  • Then he drew himself upon his plank and swam, doubling his speed.

    The Rock of Chickamauga

    Joseph A. Altsheler

  • He slipped his arm off the plank and sank in the stream to the chin.

    The Rock of Chickamauga

    Joseph A. Altsheler

  • He wheeled it up to the side door, an' put a plank over the steps, an' wheeled it right in.

    Meadow Grass

    Alice Brown

  • A plank is found infected with it, and the whole structure is devoted.

  • He states that they pierced a plank, an inch thick, with a bullet made of mercury.

    The Field of Ice

    Jules Verne

British Dictionary definitions for plank


  1. a stout length of sawn timber
  2. something that supports or sustains
  3. one of the policies in a political party's programme
  4. walk the plank to be forced by pirates to walk to one's death off the end of a plank jutting out over the water from the side of a ship
  5. British slang a stupid person; idiot
verb (tr)
  1. to cover or provide (an area) with planks
  2. to beat (meat) to make it tender
  3. mainly US and Canadian to cook or serve (meat or fish) on a special wooden board

Word Origin for plank

C13: from Old Norman French planke, from Late Latin planca board, from plancus flat-footed; probably related to Greek plax flat surface


  1. (tr) Scot to hide; cache

Word Origin for plank

C19: a variant of plant
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

Word Origin and History for plank

late 13c. (c.1200 as a surname), from Old North French planke, variant of Old French planche "plank, slab, little wooden bridge" (12c.), from Late Latin planca "broad slab, board," probably from Latin plancus "flat, flat-footed," from PIE *plak- (1) "to be flat" (see placenta). Technically, timber sawed to measure 2 to 6 inches thick, 9 inches or more wide, and 8 feet or more long. Political sense of "item of a party platform" is U.S. coinage from 1848. To walk the plank, supposedly a pirate punishment, is first attested 1789 and most early references are to slave-traders disposing of excess human cargo in crossing the ocean.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with plank


see walk the plank.

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