[ pluhgd-in ]
/ ˈplʌgdˈɪn /
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adjective Informal.
closely connected; in touch with what is going on; informed; involved: He's one of the more plugged-in advisers at State House.
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Origin of plugged-in

1955–60, for literal sense
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does plugged-in mean?

If you’re plugged-in, you’re in the know, in touch with what is going on, and very well-informed. You can also be so plugged in to a task, usually a technological one, to the point where you shut everything else out.

Where does plugged-in come from?

The expression plugged-in comes from the image of an electronic device being plugged in to a socket or circuit. People have been doing and saying this since the beginning of electricity (the early 1900s).

In the 1960s, being plugged-in meant you were knowledgeable about the goings-on of the day. It’s likely the imagery was promoted by the popularization of television, including the heyday of 30-minute nightly network news and hit TV shows like the futuristic Jetsons.

By the 2000s, plugged-in expanded its sense to “hip” and “fashionable,” used for someone who has their finger on the cultural pulse.

It also started narrowing in the 2000s. Like a kid with headphones plugged in to a gaming console, plugged-in came to characterize someone so focused on a task that they tune everything else out around them.

How is plugged-in used in real life?

Of course, plugged in is widely used to refer to some piece of electronics plugged in to a socket or circuit, like a lamp or computer cable.

As an expression, plugged-in is used to describe someone who’s involved in or knowledgeable about some matter, from World Cup stats to hyperlocal community concerns to politics.

The “in-the-know” meaning of plugged-in has inspired a sub-sense of the phrase.

It’s common to see adults worried that the kids these days are too plugged-in, especially when it comes to their personal technology. If you find that you’re too plugged-in, you should unplug. That modification of the phrase gets lobbed out by self-help advice columnists and health brands a lot.

More examples of plugged-in:

“Every day this week—heading into the start of free agency at 12:01 a.m. ET July 1—Bleacher Report will look at every angle of LeBron James’ upcoming decision with reports and features from our most plugged-in NBA reporters.”
Bleacher Report, June, 2018


This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.

How to use plugged-in in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for plugged-in


slang up-to-date; abreast of the times
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