Definition of plot in English:



  • 1A plan made in secret by a group of people to do something illegal or harmful.

    with infinitive ‘there's a plot to overthrow the government’
    • ‘He succeeds in persuading Krishna to go, not letting on that the real purpose was a plot by Kamsa to kill Krishna.’
    • ‘The clothing firm boss was the ringleader in a plot which swindled the Inland Revenue and Benefits Agency out of almost £500,000 over three years.’
    • ‘It will be one long series of conspiracies and plots aimed at regaining the spot.’
    • ‘She became totally oblivious to his plots, his plans, his thoughts once more.’
    • ‘Some believe that the whole plot was a government conspiracy to convince James that Catholics could not be trusted.’
    • ‘His son Erwin was suspected of being involved in the plot to assassinate Hitler on 20 July 1944 and was executed by the Gestapo early in 1945.’
    • ‘She'd thrown us together to protect us; it had all been a secret plot to save her family.’
    • ‘Police had said the plan to kill him was part of a larger plot to overthrow the President.’
    • ‘I have no ulterior motives, no plots or secret schemes.’
    • ‘He muttered something under his breath, and started planning his next plot to kill her.’
    • ‘A bungling thief who masterminded a plot to defraud cashpoint customers by installing a camera in an ATM machine has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.’
    • ‘Subsequent interrogations of him and other accomplices revealed that a series of plots were being planned.’
    • ‘We know that we've got these people out in the world now that are looking for us, looking for an opportunity, whatever their plans or plots may be.’
    • ‘He has not been implicated in the coup plot and has remained silent on the affair.’
    • ‘In July plots were discovered against James and Raleigh was arrested and charged with high treason.’
    • ‘She and her brother had planned the getaway plot for so long, and they were so sure that it would work.’
    • ‘The two senatorial candidates were earlier listed among alleged masterminds of a plot to overthrow the government that could be arrested without warrant.’
    • ‘The author ushers in the names of the conspirators and their plot to kidnap Lincoln.’
    • ‘The plot had been perfectly planned, perfectly executed.’
    • ‘Eight other terror suspects, cleared of the poison plot, were also illegal immigrants.’
    conspiracy, intrigue, secret plan, secret scheme, stratagem
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  • 2The main events of a play, novel, film, or similar work, devised and presented by the writer as an interrelated sequence.

    ‘the plot consists almost entirely of a man and woman falling in love’
    with modifier ‘he outlined his idea for a movie plot’
    • ‘Don't you hate it when movie titles give away the entire plot of the film?’
    • ‘The plot of the novel deals with the re-entry into society of a girl who seven years before murdered three children in her care.’
    • ‘The film has a brilliant plot, devoid of holes or implausibility, but is only secondary to the characters.’
    • ‘I will now explain precisely what I mean, but warn you all that I will be giving away all of the secret plots twists from the first two seasons.’
    • ‘The great weakness in the love plot of the novel, as Trollope perceived, was that Ralph the Heir is so chronically and incurably ‘weak’.’
    • ‘The plot is far from novel in cinematic history, but is at least a bit of a twist on the standard formulation.’
    • ‘The plot of a film noir, generically speaking, is an ironic romance in which the knight's quest is driven by vice instead of virtue.’
    • ‘In fact, the plot of the novel constantly moves around, traveling from place to place like tourists and travel books.’
    • ‘Plus, I planned out the plot and then added in the fact that she had known them after I wrote the third chapter, so I had to go back and change many things.’
    • ‘The complex plot of the novel explores many things.’
    • ‘There is a certain kind of movie viewer who wants to know the entire plot of a film before it opens.’
    • ‘Like many adaptations from novels, the plot has too much material to give justice to the main theme.’
    • ‘It doesn't take long to complete and repeated play will likely be only to unlock the many secrets embedded within the plot.’
    • ‘As promised in the title, the main plot of the novel revolves around a surgical operation of epic proportions.’
    • ‘The events of his three years on the road, except for a few short asides, make up the plot of the novel.’
    • ‘It's truly remarkable to think about these simple films with their simple plots and simple characters and realize what big hits they were.’
    • ‘So we can say that in all his films the plot leads to a fatal end, a tragic destiny which the characters cannot avoid because it is presented as an absolute truth.’
    • ‘The plot of Dostoevsky's novel paralleled real-life events.’
    • ‘There are several dozen speaking parts in the film and numerous plots and sub-plots.’
    • ‘It is sometimes difficult to discern the main thrust of the plot because of a host of subplots.’
    storyline, story, chain of events, scenario, action, thread
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  • 3A small piece of ground marked out for a purpose such as building or gardening.

    ‘a vegetable plot’
    • ‘He gives five prisoners a sizable plot on the prison grounds to make the most gorgeous garden they can.’
    • ‘The original owners of Ellenborough Park also owned the surrounding land, which they sold off in plots for building purposes.’
    • ‘In order to survive, most inhabitants of the big cities are forced to grow their own vegetables in garden plots or in collaboration with their families.’
    • ‘Just because a plot of ground has outline planning permission does not mean that whoever buys that land will now get permission to build so why have it in the first place?’
    • ‘We wandered upstairs and downstairs, through the garden, past the vegetable plot and back to a bus stop.’
    • ‘The residential plots and buildings have been transformed into commercial spaces, complexes and offices.’
    • ‘There was also a piece of ground which my mum and dad kept as a vegetable plot.’
    • ‘There was no trace it had ever existed, except blank plots where the buildings once stood.’
    • ‘The compost is then used by the children's gardening club in tending the vegetable and flower plots at the 123-pupil school.’
    • ‘Another area where councils have lost revenue is the rampant and illegal allocation of plots in many of the local authorities.’
    • ‘Speaking on national radio this week, the minister said would-be growers in the Cook Islands were being encouraged to plan small plots of trees that would be easy to manage.’
    • ‘Dozens of residents and travellers crammed in the centre's room one for the first day of an appeal hearing against the council's decision to evict travellers from 11 illegal plots.’
    • ‘When I went back to see the room where I was born, it was just a grassy plot between two apartment buildings.’
    • ‘Over the last two months everybody at the school has been busy with the planting of a bog garden, a vegetable plot and a Spring Clean of the grounds.’
    • ‘I heard a figure of something like 5000 new building sites and plots now offered in greater Plettenberg Bay.’
    • ‘The plot itself is designed for businesses, offices and service space.’
    • ‘They planned to sell the plot to reinvest in their fish farms business.’
    • ‘Men in the garden weeding the vegetable plot, while others are tending to the animals meet us.’
    • ‘The land surrounding this section is farmland and small plots of vegetable gardens.’
    • ‘I am planning to purchase a plot in Bangalore.’
    piece of ground, patch, area, location, parcel, tract, allotment, acreage
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  • 4A graph showing the relation between two variables.

    • ‘The prediction isn't nearly as accurate, as seen in the plot of differences between the real and expected values.’
    • ‘Figure 3 shows the plot of void ratio versus pressure for sample 1.’
    • ‘Such a plot shows that the system cycles through precisely the same state of motion again and again at regular intervals.’
    • ‘Ternary plots are then produced to show the similarities of the populations in the database, in particular between those samples in the same population as the sample being identified.’
    • ‘A plot of the theoretical relationship between stress and deformation in metal shows a linear portion that represents the elastic region.’
    • ‘He was able to draw the plots in such a way that the coefficient of regression became the slope of the regression line.’
    • ‘Line drawings are more suitable than variable-area-wiggle plots for displaying large seismic sections at a size appropriate for publication.’
    • ‘Panels A and B represent a plot of the expected ratio coefficients versus the fitted ones.’
    • ‘A funnel plot showed noticeable asymmetry in the 11 placebo controlled trials.’
    • ‘Based on these results, we propose the relation plot as an instrument to distinguish different interaction schemes.’
    • ‘Interpreting that information is not like interpreting a simple plot or graph.’
    • ‘Figure 3 shows the scatter plot of estimated versus measured cloudless values for the three data sets.’
    • ‘Figure 3 shows the three scatter plots generated for the three replicates of a representative sample.’
    • ‘A plot of the data shows some interesting features.’
    • ‘One of the easiest ways to spot the patterns in the data is to produce ternary plots which emphasise how the elements in a sample are associated with one another.’
    • ‘We performed an exploratory analysis of each variable included in the study by univariate statistics and distribution plots.’
    1. 4.1US A diagram, chart, or map.
      • ‘In the contour plot, red indicates the most probable conformations.’
      • ‘Residual plots indicate a well-specified model where there is a lack of pattern between the standardized residuals and their predicted values.’
      • ‘Rather than compressing all of the information into a single diagram, plots represent the distribution of the quartet distance geometries.’
      • ‘Data were checked for assumptions of parametric tests by histogram plots.’
      • ‘Scatterplots and residual plots were visually examined to insure that model assumptions were met.’
      • ‘Therefore, data were checked for assumptions of parametric tests by histogram plots and Kolmogorov Smirnov tests.’
      • ‘Generally, it was the more recently conducted reviews that had considered or tested for funnel plot asymmetry.’
      • ‘Goodness of fit was assessed by diagnostic plots and the statistical significance of the Pearson chi-square of the fitted model.’
      • ‘We used funnel plot asymmetry to detect any bias in the trials retrieved.’
      • ‘We examined publication bias and related biases in funnel plots and carried out a test of funnel plot asymmetry.’
      • ‘Understanding how numeric data plots depict behavior is certainly an important skill.’
      plan, blueprint, drawing, scale drawing, sketch, outline, map, plot, diagram, delineation, draft, depiction, representation, artist's impression, scheme, model, prototype, proposal
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  • 1Secretly make plans to carry out (an illegal or harmful action)

    ‘the two men are serving sentences for plotting a bomb campaign’
    no object ‘brother plots against brother’
    • ‘I think that when I sleep, or when I'm out doing whatever, they are secretly plotting against me.’
    • ‘He remained an assertive influence at William III's court, however, quarrelling and plotting against those whom he believed were thwarting his own ambitions.’
    • ‘The assassin's friends were already plotting against the girl and their opportunity for vengeance soon all too soon.’
    • ‘He probably was plotting something secretly evil.’
    • ‘But he was beginning to see that to Gwyn, everyone had been plotting against him and every lord and general had planned to kill their family.’
    • ‘I know you've been plotting against me ever since the day I became queen.’
    • ‘I think we have to work on the assumption that there are people out there plotting against us, wanting to do us grave damage.’
    • ‘His mother's lover, General Victor Lahorie, her husband's former commanding officer, was executed for plotting against Napoleon in 1812.’
    • ‘Part of that freedom means actually taking the unpleasant decisions of having to support a security infrastructure and the apparatus necessary to find out who is plotting against us.’
    • ‘France nurtured what was essentially a myth of a united people, secretly despising and plotting against the occupiers for five years.’
    • ‘Back in England, old Edmund Dudley got his head chopped off for plotting against King Henry VII.’
    • ‘I meet people all the time who are terrified walking around because they think everybody is making fun of them or plotting against them.’
    • ‘It would appear that our ‘enemies’ have been plotting against us for some time.’
    • ‘Because several of the nobles to the north of us are plotting against the King.’
    • ‘Only six months after assuming power, he imprisoned many of his opponents on the Left, claiming that they had been plotting against him.’
    • ‘But I still think he may be secretly plotting his next move.’
    • ‘If he is indeed plotting against us, his plans will be foiled.’
    • ‘The main enemy was the evil Cardinal Richelieu who was plotting against the easily led King and secretly working for the Spanish.’
    • ‘But he is promoted over his former superior, who pretends to be pleased at his old friend's success while secretly plotting his downfall.’
    • ‘Not since Stephen's reign had the country seen so much of its ruler, but there was little pleasure or profit to be got from a king who constantly suspected that men were plotting against him.’
    plan, scheme, arrange, organize, lay, hatch, concoct, devise, frame, think up, dream up, cook up, brew, conceive
    conspire, scheme, participate in a conspiracy, intrigue, collude, connive, manoeuvre
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  • 2Devise the sequence of events in (a play, novel, film, or similar work)

    ‘she would plot a chapter as she drove’
    no object ‘in a crime story you have to plot carefully to achieve the surprise at the end’
    • ‘Measure for Measure is one of Shakespeare's later comedies and one of his most intricately plotted plays.’
    • ‘I'm hoping I can divert my attention and go back to plotting my novel.’
    • ‘The five stories are intricately plotted and seamlessly woven together.’
    • ‘So certainly, our storylines are plotted ahead of time.’
    • ‘Perry plots each novel out thoroughly in advance, starting with the solution of the mystery and working backward to its beginnings.’
    • ‘There were frank and humorous references to the Bard's weaknesses when it came to plotting his plays and his tendency to ‘borrow’ from the works of other writers.’
    • ‘But after watching it again for the first time in 30 years, Williams has changed his mind and revealed he is plotting a shocking sequel, with plenty of murderous revenge.’
    • ‘Sayle is on familiar ground here, and the story is well plotted and both dialogue and historical description are credible.’
    • ‘Although the film is strongly plotted, its leisurely pace and quiet tone take it more in the direction of character study than the rollicking caper promised by the packaging.’
    • ‘Brave new storylines are plotted, tackling issues like illiteracy, drink driving and vote rigging.’
    • ‘Lucas plotted the film and acted as a consultant on the script.’
    • ‘The work is clearly very well planned and organise, and the story has been carefully plotted to be tight and layered.’
    • ‘In answering a question about his collages he talks about why he could never plot a novel.’
    • ‘Is there a particular process when you begin plotting your work or does it differ?’
    • ‘So there was no ego involved in plotting this film, casting this film, directing, editing - the only thing that mattered was the movie.’
    • ‘And the Greeks, famous for their tragedies, really knew how to plot a story for maximum impact.’
    • ‘Every angle is carefully plotted, and tension builds steadily throughout the film.’
  • 3Mark (a route or position) on a chart.

    ‘he started to plot lines of ancient sites’
    • ‘However, the key to all these innovations was the written word and the chart on which you plotted your course.’
    • ‘At each study site, we plotted the location of all nest predators seen or heard relative to robin nests.’
    • ‘However, instead of plotting a straight path, why not create a winding tour through other interesting areas of the garden on the way there?’
    • ‘Then it was back to the charts, where each team planned a route and then plotted a magnetic course to steer for each leg of the 13-mile trip to Block Island.’
    • ‘He took one last look at his map, plotting his route and continued on.’
    • ‘They also have to plot the aircraft's position on a chart as a backup to verify their location at all times.’
    • ‘Thus, the expeditioners are reliant solely on their radio contacts with the base to plot positions and for an aircraft to be available to pick them up at the end of the expedition.’
    • ‘Furthermore, the bike can't stop to evaluate its position and plot a new route; everything must be done in real time.’
    • ‘Simply enter the address and the system plots the best route and guides you with voice instructions.’
    • ‘I had plotted the route in detail and made a road book.’
    • ‘The old leather chart spilled out to show a cleverly plotted route of the swamplands.’
    • ‘The Council has created a new cycle map plotting all routes which cyclists can use to get about the city.’
    • ‘Drivers punch in their starting point and destination and the quickest route is automatically plotted on a screen.’
    • ‘Many hardboat skippers have PCs by the helm, displaying electronic charts, plotting their position from a GPS interface and even steering the boat's auto-pilot.’
    • ‘There are two modes: one plots a route to a chosen destination, the other allows you to create a more complex itinerary with any number of stops on the way to your final destination.’
    • ‘A compass, sextant and charts were the necessary tools for plotting a course.’
    • ‘The system, which can plot a route from a wide range of driver inputs, always shows the most direct route.’
    • ‘Council officers have had no choice but to plot a route using roads, which they accept is not ideal.’
    • ‘The Thai Marines used compasses to mark the minefield and plotted the locations of the mines.’
    • ‘All navigation begins with plotting your position on a chart.’
    mark, chart, map, indicate, represent, graph
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    1. 3.1 Mark out or allocate (points) on a graph.
      ‘the dependent variable's points are plotted on the Y axis’
      • ‘The outcomes for a range of spins and velocities can be plotted on a graph.’
      • ‘Lines connect all data points but symbols representing only every twelfth data point were plotted.’
      • ‘We then placed this lumped linear genetic map on both x- and y-axes and plotted the positions of the epistatic interactions detected.’
      • ‘In addition, the clear zones and entry control points were also plotted.’
      • ‘In the next graph we have plotted the monthly price of U.S. dollar Gold and the year-to-year change in U.S. currency circulation, inverted.’
      • ‘Once points are plotted, the information is stored in a job file on the data collector for future use.’
      • ‘The article abounds with graphs sporting unlabeled axes, imprecise axis scales, inaccurately plotted points, and confused methods explanations.’
      • ‘Note that sometimes a new point will be plotted further to the right than any previous one.’
      • ‘Points are plotted according to their natural color.’
      • ‘The time ranges of events have been plotted to take account of the errors on radiometric dates.’
      • ‘Approximately, only every fifth data point is actually plotted on the graphs.’
      • ‘A graphical display of attitudes about distance education and the delivery of course materials were plotted.’
      • ‘Surely the chaos game algorithm will plot the same point multiple times.’
      • ‘With previous records, inexperienced technicians had interpreted relatively simple information from an oscilloscope and plotted it on a graph.’
      • ‘Such numbers can be plotted as points on a graph.’
      trace, draw up, delineate
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    2. 3.2 Make (a curve) by marking out a number of points on a graph.
      ‘a cooling curve is plotted and the freezing point determined’
      • ‘Finally, frequencies versus displacement amplitude curves were plotted for different layered systems.’
      • ‘Survival curves were plotted and the significance of differences between life spans of strains was analyzed using the Mann-Whitney test.’
      • ‘They plotted the survival curves for each species and found significant sex differences in life expectancy favouring whichever sex took most parental responsibility.’
      • ‘You can plot a curve (a reaction function) showing the cost or benefit to firm A for each price.’
      • ‘When analysing survival data, the survival curves should always be plotted.’
      • ‘This exact curve has been plotted as a dotted line in Fig 2A.’
      • ‘Survival curves were plotted using the product limit estimates.’
      • ‘Receiver operating characteristic curves were plotted for the early and late stages of the disease in both the areas.’
      • ‘The total cost curves (total means not divided by numbers of vehicles as for average cost curves) are plotted for each capacity.’
      • ‘The doctor will then plot these values on a growth curve that shows the height and weight ranges in a large population of children of the same age and sex.’
      • ‘When these curves are plotted on the same axes, their intersection points define the stable points of the system.’
      • ‘These ages plot as a normal curve, supporting the assumption that they all derive from a single thermal event.’
      • ‘A standard curve was plotted from the data obtained.’
    3. 3.3 Illustrate by use of a graph.
      ‘it is possible to plot fairly closely the rate at which recruitment of girls increased’
      • ‘The graph plots the cancer rate for each sex within 10-year age bands for the UK in 1999.’
      • ‘Page 7 of the PDF has a nice set of graphs that plot the measured personality characteristics as a function of age.’
      • ‘Figure 2 plots the individual study results and the receiver operator characteristics curve for all seven studies.’
      • ‘He holds up a graph plotting the dramatically dropping rates of the hormone over a woman's life, a drop that parallels the drop in estrogen levels.’


  • lose the plot

    • informal Lose one's ability to understand or cope with what is happening.

      ‘many people believe that he is feeling the strain or has lost the plot’
      • ‘Have we as a nation lost the plot as regards law and order?’
      • ‘At this point I lost the plot and started screaming at Abby who awoke in a panic.’
      • ‘He never had any ambition to make tons of money, he just wanted to produce great ads, and when people couldn't understand his vision he'd totally lose the plot.’
      • ‘Sometimes I really think my parents have lost the plot.’
      • ‘Always eccentric, he was rumoured to have lost the plot completely.’
      • ‘The world around him was an illusion; he had lost the plot.’
      • ‘The manager has lost the plot completely, he's got to go.’
      • ‘Local government spending priorities seem to have lost the plot with the focus moving from the essential to the fashionable.’
      • ‘Then, they'd thought I'd lost the plot when I suggested buying the lease.’
      • ‘I looked at him a bit strangely, and wondered if he'd lost the plot.’
  • the plot thickens

    • Used when a situation is becoming more and more complicated and puzzling.

      • ‘She herself is married too and the plot thickens when her husband is murdered.’
      • ‘‘Ahh… and the plot thickens,’ he said with a smile.’
      • ‘As the plot thickens, the suspect first begins to lose freedom, then dignity, and then any kind of self-respect.’
      • ‘Expect lots of guns, flying bullets, high-speed chases and a huge body count as the tension rises and the plot thickens.’
      • ‘This claim opens up new dimensions in the story line leading to new revelations: the plot thickens and becomes more complex.’
      • ‘When his friend Sergio turns up, without explanation, the plot thickens.’
      • ‘From then on, the plot thickens with gangland hit men, police snoopers, media feeding frenzies, and nasty sexual shenanigans.’
      • ‘Except she's not my girlfriend anymore because - don't you love it when the plot thickens? - she dumped me.’
      • ‘But the plot thickens because there are another couple of men who were involved in this, but they were actually able to leave the country before it was uncovered.’
      • ‘So the plot thickens… But little do they know that I will turn everything to my advantage.’
      • ‘It is at this stage that the plot thickens and sympathy for some parents vanishes.’
      • ‘But here the plot thickens and the mystery deepens.’
      become more complicated, become more involved, become more intricate, become more mysterious, deepen
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Late Old English (in plot (sense 3 of the noun)), of unknown origin. The sense ‘secret plan’, dating from the late 16th century, is associated with Old French complot ‘dense crowd, secret project’, the same term being used occasionally in English from the mid 16th century Compare with plat.