a person who installs and repairs piping, fixtures, appliances, and appurtenances in connection with the water supply, drainage systems, etc., both in and out of buildings.
Slang. an undercover operative or spy hired to detect or stop leaks of news or secret information, often using questionable or illegal methods, as illegal entry or wiretapping.
Obsolete. a worker in lead or similar metals.

1375–1425; 1965–70 for def 2; late Middle English, spelling variant of Middle English plowberLate Latin plumbārius leadworker; replacing Middle English plummer < Anglo-French; Old French plummier < Latin, as above. See plumb, -er2 Unabridged


a small mass of lead or other heavy material, as that suspended by a line and used to measure the depth of water or to ascertain a vertical line. Compare plumb line.
adjective Also, plum.
true according to a plumb line; perpendicular.
Informal. downright or absolute.
adverb Also, plum.
in a perpendicular or vertical direction.
exactly, precisely, or directly.
Informal. completely or absolutely: She was plumb mad. You're plumb right.
verb (used with object)
to test or adjust by a plumb line.
to make vertical.
Shipbuilding. horn ( def 31 ).
to sound with or as with a plumb line.
to measure (depth) by sounding.
to examine closely in order to discover or understand: to plumb someone's thoughts.
to seal with lead.
to weight with lead.
to provide (a house, building, apartment, etc.) with plumbing.
verb (used without object)
to work as a plumber.
out of/off plumb, not corresponding to the perpendicular; out of true.

1250–1300; Middle English plumbe, probably < Anglo-French *plombe < Vulgar Latin *plumba, for Latin plumbum lead

plumbable, adjective
plumbless, adjective
plumbness, noun
replumb, verb (used with object)
unplumb, adjective

plum, plumb.

2. vertical, straight, square. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
plumb (plʌm)
1.  a weight, usually of lead, suspended at the end of a line and used to determine water depth or verticality
2.  the perpendicular position of a freely suspended plumb line (esp in the phrases out of plumb, off plumb)
3.  informal chiefly (US) (prenominal) (intensifier): a plumb nuisance
4.  in a vertical or perpendicular line
5.  informal chiefly (US) (intensifier): plumb stupid
6.  informal exactly; precisely (also in the phrase plumb on)
vb (often foll by up)
7.  to test the alignment of or adjust to the vertical with a plumb line
8.  (tr) to undergo or experience (the worst extremes of misery, sadness, etc): to plumb the depths of despair
9.  (tr) to understand or master (something obscure): to plumb a mystery
10.  to connect or join (a device such as a tap) to a water pipe or drainage system
[C13: from Old French plomb (unattested) lead line, from Old French plon lead, from Latin plumbum lead]

plumber (ˈplʌmə)
a person who installs and repairs pipes, fixtures, etc, for water, drainage, and gas
[C14: from Old French plommier worker in lead, from Late Latin plumbārius, from Latin plumbum lead]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1300, "lead hung on a string to show the vertical line," from O.Fr. *plombe, plomme "sounding lead," from L.L. *plumba, originally pl. of L. plumbum "lead," the metal, of unknown origin, related to Gk. molybdos "lead" (dial. bolimos), probably from an extinct Mediterranean language, perhaps Iberian.
The verb is first recorded c.1380, with sense "to immerse;" meaning "take soundings with a plumb" is first recorded 1568; fig. sense of "to get to the bottom of" is from 1599. Plumb-bob is from 1835. Adj. sense of "perpendicular, vertical" is from c.1460; the notion of "exact measurement" led to extended sense of "completely, downright" (1748), sometimes spelled plump or plunk.

c.1100, "a worker in any sort of lead," from O.Fr. plummier (Fr. plombier), from L. plumbarius "worker in lead," properly an adj., "pertaining to lead," from plumbum "lead" (see plumb). Meaning shifted 19c. to "workman who installs pipes and fittings" as lead water pipes became
the principal concern of the trade. In U.S. Nixon administration (1969-74), the name of a special unit for investigation of "leaks" of government secrets. Plumbing "water pipes" is first recorded 1884.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Computing Dictionary

Plumber definition

programming, tool
A system for obtaining information about memory leaks in Ada and C programs.
(17 Feb 1999)
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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Example sentences
But in practical terms, that is no different than calling an electrician or
  plumber for home repairs.
In choosing a plumber they generally have to rely on some sort of signal of
We'll often e-mail each other too if there's news to share, or someone is
  looking for a plumber.
Ray went to work for the construction company as a licensed plumber.
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