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  1. Machinery. a pistonlike reciprocating part moving within the cylinder of a pump or hydraulic device.
  2. Automotive. a pistonlike part in the valve of a pneumatic tire.
  3. Also called force cup, plumber's friend, plumber's helper. a device consisting of a handle with a rubber suction cup at one end, used as a force pump to free clogged drains and toilet traps.
  4. a person or thing that plunges.
  5. a reckless bettor or speculator.
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Origin of plunger

First recorded in 1605–15; plunge + -er1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for plunger


  1. a rubber suction cup fixed to the end of a rod, used to clear blocked drains
  2. a device or part of a machine that has a plunging or thrusting motion; piston
  3. informal a reckless gambler
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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 plunger


1610s, "one who plunges," agent noun from plunge (v.). As a mechanism, 1777.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper