follow Dictionary.com

Get our exclusive Word of the Day images!

plumber

[pluhm-er] /ˈplʌm ər/
noun
1.
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.
2.
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.
3.
Obsolete. a worker in lead or similar metals.
Origin
1375-1425
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

plumb

[pluhm] /plʌm/
noun
1.
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.
2.
true according to a plumb line; perpendicular.
3.
Informal. downright or absolute.
adverb, Also, plum.
4.
in a perpendicular or vertical direction.
5.
exactly, precisely, or directly.
6.
Informal. completely or absolutely:
She was plumb mad. You're plumb right.
verb (used with object)
7.
to test or adjust by a plumb line.
8.
to make vertical.
9.
Shipbuilding. horn (def 31).
10.
to sound with or as with a plumb line.
11.
to measure (depth) by sounding.
12.
to examine closely in order to discover or understand:
to plumb someone's thoughts.
13.
to seal with lead.
14.
to weight with lead.
15.
to provide (a house, building, apartment, etc.) with plumbing.
verb (used without object)
16.
to work as a plumber.
Idioms
17.
out of / off plumb, not corresponding to the perpendicular; out of true.
Origin
1250-1300; Middle English plumbe, probably < Anglo-French *plombe < Vulgar Latin *plumba, for Latin plumbum lead
Related forms
plumbable, adjective
plumbless, adjective
plumbness, noun
replumb, verb (used with object)
unplumb, adjective
Can be confused
plum, plumb.
Synonyms
2. vertical, straight, square.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for plumber
  • 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 quality.
  • 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.
  • In the case of the public debt you do not need a plumber.
  • In many communities a good plumber or contractor makes more than the average lawyer.
  • Finding a competent plumber or electrician is extremely difficult.
  • Or your plumber, pastor, and that quiet chemical engineer down the street.
  • The plumber had come upon the field, but his coming brought no relief.
  • If you're a plumber, you've got to have a lot of different wrenches and you've got to know how to use them.
British Dictionary definitions for plumber

plumber

/ˈplʌmə/
noun
1.
a person who installs and repairs pipes, fixtures, etc, for water, drainage, and gas
Word Origin
C14: from Old French plommier worker in lead, from Late Latin plumbārius, from Latin plumbum lead

plumb

/plʌm/
noun
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)
adjective
3.
(prenominal) (informal, mainly US) (intensifier): a plumb nuisance
adverb
4.
in a vertical or perpendicular line
5.
(informal, mainly US) (intensifier): plumb stupid
6.
(informal) exactly; precisely (also in the phrase plumb on)
verb
7.
(transitive) often foll by up. to test the alignment of or adjust to the vertical with a plumb line
8.
(transitive) to undergo or experience (the worst extremes of misery, sadness, etc): to plumb the depths of despair
9.
(transitive) 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
Derived Forms
plumbable, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Old French plomb (unattested) lead line, from Old French plon lead, from Latin plumbum lead
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for plumber
n.

late 14c. (from c.1100 as a surname), "a worker in any sort of lead" (roofs, gutters, pipes), from Old French plomier "lead-smelter" (Modern French plombier) and directly from Latin plumbarius "worker in lead," noun use of adjective meaning "pertaining to lead," from plumbum "lead" (see plumb (n.)). Meaning focused 19c. on "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.

plumb

n.

"lead hung on a string to show the vertical line," early 14c., from Old French *plombe, plomee "sounding lead," and directly from Late Latin *plumba, originally plural of Latin plumbum "lead (the metal), lead ball; pipe; pencil," a word of unknown origin, related to Greek molybdos "lead" (dialectal bolimos) and perhaps from an extinct Mediterranean language, perhaps Iberian.

v.

early 15c., "to sink" (like lead), from plumb (n.). Meaning "take soundings with a plumb" is first recorded 1560s; figurative sense of "to get to the bottom of" is from 1590s. Related: Plumbed; plumbing.

adj.

"perpendicular, vertical," mid-15c., from plumb (n.). The notion of "exact measurement" led to extended sense of "completely, downright" (1748), sometimes spelled plump, plum, or plunk.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Slang definitions & phrases for plumber

plumber

noun
  1. A urologist (1950s+ Medical)
  2. A member of a White House group under President Richard M Nixon, which exerted itself to stop various leaks of confidential information: One of the jobs carried out by the plumbers was burglarizing the office of Dr Daniel Ellsberg's former psychiatrist (1972+)
verb

To botch; ruin: I tho't I plumbered it (1930s+)


plumb

adverb

Completely; entirely; stone: What he said was plumb silly

[1748+; fr notions of exact extent and precision associated with the plumb bob or sailor's plumb line (for measuring depth of water), ultimately fr Latin plumbum, ''lead'']


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
Cite This Source
plumber in Technology
programming, tool
A system for obtaining information about memory leaks in Ada and C programs.
(http://home.earthlink.net/~owenomalley/plumber.html).
(17 Feb 1999)
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for plumber

Many English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for plumber

13
18
Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with plumber

Nearby words for plumber