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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.
Origin of pluck
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. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for pluck up
Historical Examples
  • But what was to be expected of men who had not even been able to pluck up sufficient courage to wrench Paris from Trochu?

  • He was trying to pluck up his spirit in order that he might get rid of them.

    Cousin Henry Anthony Trollope
  • All this time nothing had been said of the Sheriff's money, so presently he began to pluck up heart.

  • This thought caused him to pluck up heart and look at Nina sideways.

    Almayer's Folly Joseph Conrad
  • I have no time to write at present, but I beg you will endeavour to pluck up a little more of the Man than you used to have.

  • Take my advice and pluck up spirit, and go in for her boldly.

    Molly Bawn Margaret Wolfe Hamilton
  • Will dive into the bottom of the deep, pluck up drowned honor by the locks, and call it vanity!

    The Debatable Land Arthur Colton
  • In the meantime our men will pluck up their courage—that will be so much gained.

  • pluck up courage ye unfortunate ones—ye doubters—ye "I Can't" people!

    Nuggets of the New Thought William Walker Atkinson,
  • Lopez had resolved to pluck up his spirit and carry himself like a man.

    The Prime Minister Anthony Trollope
British Dictionary definitions for pluck up

pluck up

verb (transitive, adverb)
to pull out; uproot
to muster (courage, one's spirits, etc)


(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 up



late Old English ploccian, pluccian "pull off, cull," from West Germanic *plokken (cf. Middle Low German plucken, Middle Dutch plocken, Dutch plukken, Flemish plokken, German pflücken), perhaps from Vulgar Latin *piluccare (cf. Old French peluchier, late 12c.; Italian piluccare), a frequentative, ultimately from Latin pilare "pull out hair," from pilus "hair" (see pile (n.3)). But despite the similarities, OED finds difficulties with this and cites gaps in historical evidence. Related: Plucked; plucking.

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 1610s. To pluck up "summon up" is from c.1300.


c.1400, "act of plucking," from pluck (v.). Meaning "courage, boldness" (1785), originally in pugilism slang, is a figurative use from earlier meaning "heart, viscera" (1610s) as that which is "plucked" from slaughtered livestock. Perhaps influenced by figurative use of the verb in pluck up (one's courage, etc.), attested from c.1300.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for pluck up

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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