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[pluhk] /plʌk/
verb (used with object)
to pull off or out from the place of growth, as fruit, flowers, feathers, etc.:
to pluck feathers from a chicken.
to give a pull at; grasp:
to pluck someone's sleeve.
to pull with sudden force or with a jerk.
to pull or move by force (often followed by away, off, or out).
to remove the feathers, hair, etc., from by pulling:
to pluck a chicken.
Slang. to rob, plunder, or fleece.
to sound (the strings of a musical instrument) by pulling at them with the fingers or a plectrum.
verb (used without object)
to pull or tug sharply (often followed by at).
to snatch (often followed by at).
act of plucking; a tug.
the heart, liver, and lungs, especially of an animal used for food.
courage or resolution in the face of difficulties.
Verb phrases
pluck up,
  1. to eradicate; uproot.
  2. to summon up one's courage; rouse one's spirits:
    He always plucked up at the approach of danger. She was a stranger in the town, but, plucking up her courage, she soon made friends.
before 1000; Middle English plukken (v.), Old English pluccian, cognate with Middle Low German plucken; akin to Dutch plukken, German pflücken
Related forms
plucker, noun
half-plucked, adjective
unplucked, adjective
well-plucked, adjective
2. tug. 3. yank, tear, rip. 12. bravery, boldness, determination, mettle, nerve. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for pluck
  • Someone in the audience did pluck up the courage to ask what set them apart.
  • Most thumb-pickers use a flexible plastic pick on their thumb to pluck the strings.
  • Adept hunters, osprey dive from far above the surface to pluck fish from the water.
  • Mistaking them for berries, birds pluck the seeds from fruit and excrete them over a wide territory.
  • The officials said another search was under way this evening after the initial rescue effort failed to pluck him from the waters.
  • But leave one or two nose hairs in case you need something to pluck to induce a stuck sneeze.
  • Rich brown in color, oilbirds have powerful hooked beaks that they use to pluck fruit while hovering in the air.
  • Another hypothesis is that primates needed to see well to pluck fruits from the ends of tree branches.
  • The keyboard sends signals to hammers that mechanically pluck the guitar strings when activated.
  • The planes are designed to pluck all kinds of communications from the air.
British Dictionary definitions for pluck


(transitive) to pull off (feathers, fruit, etc) from (a fowl, tree, etc)
when intr, foll by at. to pull or tug
(transitive; foll by off, away, etc) (archaic) to pull (something) forcibly or violently (from something or someone)
(transitive) to sound (the strings) of (a musical instrument) with the fingers, a plectrum, etc
(transitive) another word for strip1 (sense 7)
(transitive) (slang) to fleece or swindle
courage, usually in the face of difficulties or hardship
a sudden pull or tug
the heart, liver, and lungs, esp of an animal used for food
Derived Forms
plucker, noun
Word Origin
Old English pluccian, plyccan; related to German pflücken
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 pluck
late O.E. ploccian "pull off, cull," from W.Gmc. *plokken (cf. M.L.G. plucken, M.Du. plocken, Flem. plokken), perhaps from V.L. *piluccare (cf. O.Fr. peluchier, c.1180), a frequentative, ultimately from L. pilare "pull out hair," from pilus "hair." But despite the similarities, OED finds difficulties with this and cites gaps in historical evidence. Noun sense of "courage, boldness" (1785) is originally boxing slang, from meaning "heart, viscera" (1611) as that which is "plucked" from slaughtered livestock. Perhaps infl. by fig. use in pluck up (one's courage, etc.), attested from c.1300. Hence, plucky (1842).
"To pluck a rose, an expression said to be used by women for going to the necessary house, which in the country usually stands in the garden." [F. Grose, "Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," 1785]
This euphemistic use is attested from 1613.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for pluck

pluck 1


To rob or cheat; fleece: These bimbos once helped pluck a bank

[1400+; fr the image of plucking a chicken]

pluck 2


To do the sex act with or to; screw

[1950s+; a euphemism for fuck]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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