the system of pipes and other apparatus for conveying water, liquid wastes, etc., as in a building.
the work or trade of a plumber.
act of a person who plumbs, as in ascertaining depth.

Nearby words

  1. plumber's snake,
  2. plumbery,
  3. plumbic,
  4. plumbicon,
  5. plumbiferous,
  6. plumbism,
  7. plumbo-,
  8. plumbous,
  9. plumbous oxide,
  10. plumbum

Origin of plumbing

First recorded in 1660–70; plumb + -ing1




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.

adjective Also plum.

true according to a plumb line perpendicular.
Informal. downright or absolute.

adverb Also plum.

in a perpendicular or vertical direction.
exactly, precisely, or directly.
Informal. completely or absolutely: She was plumb mad. You're plumb right.

verb (used with object)

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.

verb (used without object)

to work as a plumber.

Origin of plumb

1250–1300; Middle English plumbe, probably < Anglo-French *plombe < Vulgar Latin *plumba, for Latin plumbum lead

Related forms
Can be confusedplum plumb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for plumbing

British Dictionary definitions for plumbing



Also called: plumbery the trade or work of a plumber
the pipes, fixtures, etc, used in a water, drainage, or gas installation
the act or procedure of using a plumb to gauge depth, a vertical, etc



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)

adjective Also: plum

(prenominal) informal, mainly US (intensifier)a plumb nuisance

adverb Also: plum

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
Derived Formsplumbable, adjective

Word Origin for plumb

C13: from Old French plomb (unattested) lead line, from Old French plon lead, from Latin plumbum lead

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 plumbing
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper