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[plot] /plɒt/
a secret plan or scheme to accomplish some purpose, especially a hostile, unlawful, or evil purpose:
a plot to overthrow the government.
Also called storyline. the plan, scheme, or main story of a literary or dramatic work, as a play, novel, or short story.
a small piece or area of ground:
a garden plot; burial plot.
a measured piece or parcel of land:
a house on a two-acre plot.
a plan, map, diagram, or other graphic representation, as of land, a building, etc.
a list, timetable, or scheme dealing with any of the various arrangements for the production of a play, motion picture, etc.:
According to the property plot, there should be a lamp stage left.
a chart showing the course of a craft, as a ship or airplane.
Artillery. a point or points located on a map or chart:
target plot.
verb (used with object), plotted, plotting.
to plan secretly, especially something hostile or evil:
to plot mutiny.
to mark on a plan, map, or chart, as the course of a ship or aircraft.
to draw a plan or map of, as a tract of land or a building.
to divide (land) into plots.
to determine and mark (points), as on plotting paper, by means of measurements or coordinates.
to draw (a curve) by means of points so marked.
to represent by means of such a curve.
to devise or construct the plot of (a play, novel, etc.).
to prepare a list, timetable, or scheme of (production arrangements), as for a play or motion picture:
The stage manager hadn't plotted the set changes until one day before the dress rehearsal.
to make (a calculation) by graph.
verb (used without object), plotted, plotting.
to plan or scheme secretly; form a plot; conspire.
to devise or develop a literary or dramatic plot.
to be marked or located by means of measurements or coordinates, as on plotting paper.
Origin of plot
before 1100; (noun) of multiple orig.: in sense “piece of ground,” Middle English: small area, patch, stain, piece of ground, Old English: piece of ground (origin obscure); in senses “ground plan, outline, map, scheme,” variant (since the 16th century) of plat1, itself partly a variant of Middle English, Old English plot; sense “secret plan” (from 16th century) by association with complot, in pejorative sense; (v.) derivative of the noun
Related forms
plotful, adjective
plotless, adjective
plotlessness, noun
outplot, verb (used with object), outplotted, outplotting.
overplot, verb, overplotted, overplotting.
preplot, verb (used with object), preplotted, preplotting.
replot, verb (used with object), replotted, replotting.
unplotted, adjective
unplotting, adjective
well-plotted, adjective
1. intrigue, cabal. 9. brew, hatch, frame.
Synonym Study
1. See conspiracy. 19. Plot, conspire, scheme imply secret, cunning, and often unscrupulous planning to gain one's own ends. To plot is to contrive a secret plan of a selfish and often treasonable kind: to plot against someone's life. To conspire is to unite with others in an illicit or illegal machination: to conspire to seize a government. To scheme is to plan ingeniously, subtly, and often craftily for one's own advantage: to scheme how to gain power. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for plot
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • This morning she was arrested by the thought that the plot she had planted was hers.

  • You've got to have a plot, Mac, and if you've got to have a plot, you've got to have sin.

    The Foolish Lovers St. John G. Ervine
  • The death of the constable had made him miserable at heart, but the failure of the plot also.

    The Secret Agent Joseph Conrad
  • As for my party, we now began to plot, again, in order to get quit of the ship.

    Ned Myers James Fenimore Cooper
  • I knew the plot of the play, but not how it would be presented, nor how it would work out.

    It Happened in Egypt C. N. Williamson
British Dictionary definitions for plot


a secret plan to achieve some purpose, esp one that is illegal or underhand: a plot to overthrow the government
the story or plan of a play, novel, etc
(military) a graphic representation of an individual or tactical setting that pinpoints an artillery target
(mainly US) a diagram or plan, esp a surveyor's map
(informal) lose the plot, to lose one's ability or judgment in a given situation
verb plots, plotting, plotted
to plan secretly (something illegal, revolutionary, etc); conspire
(transitive) to mark (a course, as of a ship or aircraft) on a map
(transitive) to make a plan or map of
  1. to locate and mark (one or more points) on a graph by means of coordinates
  2. to draw (a curve) through these points
(transitive) to construct the plot of (a literary work)
Word Origin
C16: from plot², influenced in use by complot


a small piece of land: a vegetable plot
verb plots, plotting, plotted
(transitive) to arrange or divide (land) into plots
Word Origin
Old English: piece of land, plan of an area
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
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Word Origin and History for plot

Old English plot "small piece of ground," of unknown origin. Sense of "ground plan," and thus "map, chart" is 1550s; that of "a secret, plan, scheme" is 1580s, probably by accidental similarity to complot, from Old French complot "combined plan," of unknown origin, perhaps a back-formation from compeloter "to roll into a ball," from pelote "ball." Meaning "set of events in a story" is from 1640s. Plot-line (n.) attested from 1957.


1580s, "to lay plans for" (usually with evil intent); 1590s in the literal sense of "to make a map or diagram," from plot (n.). Related: Plotted; plotter; plotting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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plot in Culture

plot definition

The organization of events in a work of fiction.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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