Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A weight on the end of a line, used to determine water depth.
  • noun A weight on the end of a line, used especially by masons and carpenters to establish a true vertical.
  • adverb In a vertical or perpendicular line.
  • adverb Informal Directly; squarely.
  • adverb Informal Utterly; completely.
  • adjective Exactly vertical. synonym: vertical.
  • adjective Informal Utter; absolute; sheer.
  • intransitive verb To determine the depth of with a plumb; sound.
  • intransitive verb To test the verticality or alignment of with a plumb.
  • intransitive verb To straighten or make perpendicular.
  • intransitive verb To examine closely or deeply; probe.
  • intransitive verb To seal with lead.
  • intransitive verb To work as a plumber.
  • idiom (off/out of) Not vertical.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • True according to a plumb-line; vertical.
  • Of persons, upright in character or conduct; thoroughgoing.
  • An obsolete spelling of plum.
  • noun A mass of lead attached to a line, used to test the perpendicularity of walls, etc.; a plummet.
  • noun The position of a plumb or plummet when freely suspended; the vertical or perpendicular.
  • In a vertical direction; in a line perpendicular to the plane of the horizon; straight down.
  • Exactly; to a nicety; completely: as, he hit the target plumb in the bull's-eye.
  • Downright; entirely; altogether.
  • In plumbing, to seal an opening by closing it with solder or other soft metal.
  • To coincide in direction with the plumb-line; be vertically above or below.
  • To adjust by a plumb-line; set in a vertical position: as, to plumb a wall or a building.
  • To sound with or as with a plummet, as the depth of water.
  • To ascertain the measure, dimensions, capacity, or the like, of; test-
  • To supply, as a building, with lead pipes for water, sewage, etc.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To adjust by a plumb line; to cause to be perpendicular.
  • transitive verb To sound with a plumb or plummet, as the depth of water; hence, to examine by test; to ascertain the depth, quality, dimension, etc.; to sound; to fathom; to test.
  • transitive verb To seal with lead.
  • transitive verb To supply, as a building, with a system of plumbing.
  • adjective Perpendicular; vertical; conforming the direction of a line attached to a plumb.
  • adverb In a plumb direction; perpendicularly.
  • noun A little mass or weight of lead, or the like, attached to a line, and used by builders, etc., to indicate a vertical direction; a plummet; a plumb bob. See Plumb line, below.
  • noun See Bob, 4.
  • noun in sheet-metal work, a lap joint, fastened by solder.
  • noun See under Level.
  • noun A line directed to the center of gravity of the earth.
  • noun a narrow board with a plumb line, used by builders and carpenters.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective truly vertical
  • adjective cricket Describing an LBW where the batsman is hit on the pads directly in front of his wicket and should be given out.
  • adverb In a vertical direction.
  • adverb informal Squarely, directly; completely.
  • noun A little mass of lead, or the like, attached to a line, and used by builders, etc., to indicate a vertical direction.
  • noun nautical A weight on the end of a long line, used by sailors to determine the depth of water.
  • verb To determine the depth, generally of a liquid; to sound.
  • verb To attach to a water supply and drain.
  • verb To think about or explore in depth, to get to the bottom of, especially to plumb the depths of.
  • verb To use a plumb bob as a measuring or aligning tool.

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, lead, a plumb, from Old French plomb, from Latin plumbum, lead.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French *plombe, from Latin plumba (plural of plumbum).

Examples

  • His own dexterity in catching the phrase plumb in the middle gave him a thrill of excitement.

    The Years

  • Silently, but with unerring certainty, something small, round, and deadly, fell plumb from the library ceiling to where the settle had formerly stood against the hearthstone.

    The Filigree Ball

  • The dirt airstrip cut into a grove of black cottonwoods was adequate without being what you could call plumb level or arrow straight.

    Fool’s Paradise

  • References: la poubelle (f) = garbage can; plum (just in case, and for the French readers on this list, "plum" is English and the informal of "plumb" -- nothing to do with the juicy fruit) = completely; la clé (f) = key; le clavier (m) = keyboard

    French Word-A-Day:

  • The dirt airstrip cut into a grove of black cottonwoods was adequate without being what you could call plumb level or arrow straight.

    Fool’s Paradise

  • The dirt airstrip cut into a grove of black cottonwoods was adequate without being what you could call plumb level or arrow straight.

    Fool’s Paradise

  • References: la poubelle (f) = garbage can; plum (just in case, and for the French readers on this list, "plum" is English and the informal of "plumb" -- nothing to do with the juicy fruit) = completely; la clé (f) = key; le clavier (m) = keyboard

    juillettiste - French Word-A-Day

  • The dirt airstrip cut into a grove of black cottonwoods was adequate without being what you could call plumb level or arrow straight.

    Fool’s Paradise

  • References: la poubelle (f) = garbage can; plum (just in case, and for the French readers on this list, "plum" is English and the informal of "plumb" -- nothing to do with the juicy fruit) = completely; la clé (f) = key; le clavier (m) = keyboard

    French Word-A-Day:

  • References: la poubelle (f) = garbage can; plum (just in case, and for the French readers on this list, "plum" is English and the informal of "plumb" -- nothing to do with the juicy fruit) = completely; la clé (f) = key; le clavier (m) = keyboard

    French Word-A-Day:

Comments

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  • The fruition of beauty is no chance of miss or hit—it is as inevitable as life—it is exact and plumb as gravitation.

    Whitman, Preface 1855

    December 9, 2006

  • Molly looks out of plumb.

    Joyce, Ulysses, 8

    January 3, 2007

  • Mrs Howe was acted by the springs I set at work: her daughter was moving for me, and yet imagined herself plumb against me...

    Lovelace to Belford, Clarissa by Samuel Richardson

    December 10, 2007

  • the skeleton within a skeleton is out of plumb

    January 25, 2011