Definition of pluck in English:



  • 1Take hold of (something) and quickly remove it from its place:

    ‘she plucked a blade of grass’
    ‘he plucked a tape from the shelf’
    • ‘He plucks old characters from obscurity, brings them together and makes them dance.’
    • ‘Nobody sees it, until at the station a smart woman leaving the train bends over and plucks it off the floor and smooths it down as she cradles it in her hand.’
    • ‘Each show plucks the boss of a major organisation out of the boardroom and deposits them on the shop floor.’
    • ‘She sank back into the soft grass and plucked a snow white lily from it's stalk.’
    • ‘He plucked a blade of grass, splitting it in two.’
    • ‘She reached over and plucked a small grass blade from his hair.’
    • ‘She stammered, quickly plucking her favorite perfume off of her dresser and spraying some on.’
    • ‘Were I meeting men of this caliber, I'd be head over heels, humming wedding marches and plucking the petals off of daisies in the classic, he loves me, he loves me not fashion.’
    • ‘He plucks a long blade of grass to chew on out of habit.’
    • ‘He quickly kissed my lips and playfully plucked the carton of apple juice from my hand.’
    • ‘They strode past a cedar tree, and Caleb plucked several needles from a protruding branch.’
    • ‘Hoshiko rolled onto her stomach, plucking blades of grass from the immaculate lawn.’
    • ‘Then, with a sickle, Kasle plucks weeds for Rs 20 a day on the landowner's fields.’
    • ‘Baba leans across, plucks it out of the tea, and after removing his handkerchief from his pocket, gently mops the petals.’
    • ‘Instead she plucks the fixings for a salad from the garden.’
    • ‘The compère strides forward and plucks the microphone from the stand.’
    • ‘And boy, Steve reached down today and plucked it just like picking a flower.’
    • ‘She cautiously plucked a blade of grass from the lawn, and scrutinised it.’
    • ‘After some consideration, Jane plucked a light green T-shirt from her closet, and pulled on her favourite pair of jeans.’
    • ‘He plucks a hibiscus flower from a bush and hands it to me.’
    • ‘When he looked around all he could see was just greenish vegetation from which he spotted some kind of a familiar plant where he plucked a few leaves and quickly crushed them using a stone.’
    remove, pick off, pick, pull, pull off, pull out, extract, take, take off
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    1. 1.1 Catch hold of and pull quickly:
      ‘she plucked his sleeve’
      [no object] ‘brambles plucked at her jeans’
      • ‘His graceful hands deftly plucked at various cables and wires, reconnecting, splicing.’
      • ‘Morgan plucked at his sleeve and they both sat down silently on the other bed.’
      • ‘He shivered once or twice and plucked at the blanket and drew it close to his face.’
      • ‘Luckily enough, a circus happens to be passing by, and one dwarf leads his elephant over to the car, where the elephant plucks the woman out with his trunk.’
      • ‘He plucked at my elbow and we three retreated slowly, until the guard gave up and wandered away.’
      • ‘She looked down at her clothing and plucked at the wrinkles in her tee shirt.’
      • ‘She strode up to her daughter, and plucked at the pink blouse.’
      • ‘I looked down at myself and plucked at my jacket.’
      • ‘‘Well at least wash it,’ Jane wrinkled her nose as she plucked at his cloak.’
      • ‘She plucked at the ribbon trim on her pillowcase and didn't reply.’
      • ‘His mother sank back down onto the couch and plucked at the seat.’
      • ‘Actually, he jumped off the stool and ran towards his little brother - quickly plucking the bowl from his hands and making his way towards me.’
      • ‘Wondering if Manda had left it there, he quickly plucked it from its constraint.’
      • ‘Slightly surprised at that line of questioning I plucked at my jeans.’
      • ‘She sighed again and plucked at a loose thread in her dress.’
      • ‘I plucked at the sleeve of the jacket Roop had given me, trying to think of a change in conversation.’
      • ‘Riga grinned proudly and plucked at the sleeve of his shirt aimlessly.’
      • ‘He lowered himself into a chair and leaned back, stretching his legs out before him while he plucked at his lower lip in thought.’
      • ‘Joren moved quickly, plucking the young woman away from the corpse and pressing her against the wall.’
      • ‘So when I tried them on, the cutest little Latino boy came and knelt in front of me and sort pinched and plucked at me, showing me where he'd take them in to fit me better.’
      take hold of, grab, seize, tweak, twitch, jerk
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    2. 1.2 Pull the feathers from (a bird's carcass) to prepare it for cooking:
      ‘the turkeys are plucked and cleaned by machine’
      • ‘The owner of the turkey and the ‘Keeper of the Fowl’ were going to have the bird cleaned and plucked and we were going to have a Turkey Fry.’
      • ‘Then it would be slaughtered, plucked and cleaned in time for dinner on the day itself.’
      • ‘The temperature had dropped dramatically, and he was pleased to be able to get a good blaze going before setting to work plucking and preparing his wildfowl.’
      • ‘Once the blood has drained, the stall-owner plucks off the feathers, removes the entrails and hands the bird over in a bag.’
      • ‘One day I labored in the basement kitchen plucking a hundred pigeons, burning the tougher feathers off with a hand-held torch.’
      • ‘Wringing pigeons' necks, plucking and cleaning, were jobs he now did without demur.’
      • ‘They also want cheap labour to cut the sugar cane, pluck the chickens, pick the oranges, mow the lawns and make the beds.’
      • ‘He was already plucking the last few feathers and rubbing spices into the carcasses in preparation for cooking.’
      • ‘He at once began work on the bird, plucking the feathers carefully from its wings and tail and setting them in a pile on the sand, then skinning it with his dagger.’
      • ‘So, when Linda is not helping out with lambing, plucking her fabulous chickens or collecting eggs from her daughter's quails, she is knocking up new duck-houses in her carpentry shed.’
      remove the feathers from, strip of feathers
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    3. 1.3 Pull some of the hairs from (one's eyebrows) to make them look neater:
      ‘whether you pluck your eyebrows depends on your type of looks’
      • ‘Really need to pluck or get her eyebrows waxed or something.’
      • ‘It is of vital importance to pluck one's eyebrows regularly.’
      • ‘Teen magazines are full of articles on how to lose weight, get the right hair highlights, pluck eyebrows effectively, and so on.’
      • ‘I got my eyebrows plucked professionally yesterday too.’
      • ‘Women in particular are depicted in literature as looking forward to this break in their routine, dying their hair blonde in preparation, plucking their eyebrows and putting on all their jewellery.’
      • ‘Sarah flicked her hair over her shoulder and raised an immaculately plucked eyebrow.’
      • ‘I've also plucked hair from my eyebrows but will not go into this.’
      • ‘For small, annoying hairs in inconvenient places, try plucking.’
      • ‘I could live without a leg wax and having my eyebrows plucked.’
      • ‘He held a pair of tweezers in his hand, debating whether or not to pluck away the three stray hairs between his eyebrows.’
      • ‘Undergoing a total transformation by cutting her hair, plucking her eyebrows, and having her teeth capped, Céline was willing to do whatever it took to make her dreams a reality.’
      • ‘With the help of a trusty pair of tweezers (the sharper, the better), pluck away at the hairs you want to eliminate.’
      • ‘My eyes are small like my dad's, and my eyebrows have been plucked much thinner than natural.’
      • ‘Avoid over plucking the eyebrows, only take stray hairs from below the brow line as a rule or get them done professionally.’
      • ‘My nails were cut and shaped, my eyebrows plucked and then a massage with sweet smelling creams.’
      • ‘Martha had her eyebrows plucked in a rounded and shallow arch, which added to her beauty.’
      • ‘Cohen saw potential in a beauty parlour where women could get make-up done, have eyebrows plucked or false eyelash extensions applied.’
      • ‘As it singes, it seals the ends of the hair so it doesn't grow back as quickly as when you wax or pluck it.’
      • ‘The camera is too close to her face, her make up is flaked and cracking in places, tiny stray hairs, missed by plucking, appear on her eyebrows.’
      • ‘Her eyebrows are plucked and slender and brown like her natural hair color.’
    4. 1.4Geology (of glacier ice) break off (pieces of rock) by mechanical force.
      • ‘They contain kilometre-scale blocks of igneous basement rocks, plucked by the rising diapir from the footwall of the fault.’
  • 2Quickly or suddenly remove someone from a dangerous or unpleasant situation:

    ‘the baby was plucked from a grim orphanage’
    • ‘Rescuers managed to pluck the Dutch man from the stricken boat.’
    • ‘On this street, Eureka volunteer firefighters' rescue boats later would pluck at least 20 people to safety, many from their rooftops.’
    • ‘He was plucked from the rocks by a lifeboat crew.’
    • ‘The officer slung a rope around Ben's shivering body and plucked him to safety after a two-hour operation.’
    • ‘Dozens of cats and dogs, even snakes and exotic birds have been plucked to safety and taken to temporary shelters.’
    • ‘Crews plucked stranded villagers and tourists from rooftops and even the tops of cars.’
    • ‘The U.S. Coast Guard, going in and plucking, one by one, these victims from rooftops and other areas along the Gulf of Mexico.’
    • ‘Two of the people rescued were plucked from near-death situations.’
    • ‘A bird plucked from an oil spillage has been returned to the wild next to a sewage plant.’
    • ‘Helicopter pilots flying from its deck were some of the first to begin plucking stranded New Orleans residents.’
  • 3Sound (a musical instrument or its strings) with one's finger or a plectrum:

    ‘she picked up her guitar and plucked it idly’
    • ‘She started strumming, and plucking the strings, and finally singing.’
    • ‘Rita picked up his guitar and plucked at the strings.’
    • ‘With a deep breath, Jeananne plucked at her harp and sang a shrieking tune to the only audience member without the means to block out sound.’
    • ‘I watched her fingers pluck the strings gracefully, feeling her courage getting greater with the song.’
    • ‘Atkins does it all, singing and strumming and plucking, while Plummer takes a seat behind the drums.’
    • ‘He let his fingernails grow long, the better to pluck his new classical guitar.’
    • ‘And another (rather inspired this one) when he serenaded them with a banjo while plucking the theme tune to 1970s hick-horror flick Deliverance.’
    • ‘Mingus plucks the lazy line of notes, the last of which rises to meet the downward shifting piano, which in turn merges in motion with the wandering trumpet.’
    • ‘In fact this is a very romantic comic, and none of it's overplayed or plucks the heartstrings unnecessarily.’
    • ‘Jande let the silence stretch for a moment before she began plucking a soft, almost drone-like rhythm in the lower register.’
    • ‘She could not pick out a single word from the speedy way the bright folk spoke, but she could guess what they meant by the way they were plucking at her harp and looking at her expectantly.’
    • ‘I sat with the lute in my lap, trying to reach for forgotten notes as my fingers plucked the strings.’
    • ‘After putting the finishing touches to an instrument, he plucks a mournful tune which fills the workshop, his big brown eyes briefly lost in thought.’
    • ‘That evening ended on a low chord with a little whimsical note plucked in the upper register.’
    • ‘Could my daughter be playing me like a violin; plucking at my heart strings so I would feel loved?’
    • ‘It reached deep inside, plucking at the heartstrings, moving everyone's souls.’
    • ‘The whole room was silent while the guitar was still being plucked and a few other odd noises were involved.’
    • ‘She started plucking out tunes and she became a star and that is a great story and something we can all be inspired by.’
    • ‘He has plucked and strummed the strings of the electric guitar.’
    • ‘The guitar player hesitantly plucking the same melodic line over and over again, unsure of whether to stop or to go on.’
    strum, pick, thrum, twang, plunk, finger
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  • 1Spirited and determined courage:

    ‘it must have taken a lot of pluck to walk along a path marked ‘Danger’’
    • ‘While she hints at the demons in Maya's past, she invests little intelligence or pluck in the character.’
    • ‘‘Although large and powerful, they have not the pluck and martial spirit of Englishmen,’ one soldier remarked, just before his death.’
    • ‘Admiring her pluck and determination Clint reluctantly takes her on and a fascinating relationship of substitute father and daughter emerges.’
    • ‘And so, with great delight, the two close friends set out to prove they have lost none of their pluck or zest for life and through various assignations and mistaken identities turn the tables beautifully on Falstaff.’
    • ‘At 73 June sings those lyrics with the same determined pluck as she did at 9, revealing an artist whose hopefulness proved as solid and indefatigable as her voice.’
    • ‘President Reagan is showing an awful lot of pluck given this tragedy.’
    • ‘His youth, pluck and decisiveness were one of the major assets which made him different from the Communists whose radical slogans had never been translated into real actions.’
    • ‘Peter doubted the absolute truth of these statements, but he did not doubt the General's heart and his pluck.’
    • ‘Bob used plenty of pluck and hard work to get started, and then he offered other businesses the chance to get started too.’
    • ‘Wendy couldn't help but admire the pluck and ingenuity these youngsters showed.’
    • ‘For example, this time last year you highlighted the sheer day-to-day pluck and dedication of young carers in the borough.’
    • ‘Of course, not everyone has the pluck to become an entrepreneur, and most businesses fail before they get off the starting block.’
    • ‘But while he may not have the same terrier-like reputation as his brother and admits that maybe he could do with honing that never-say-never spirit, he showed plenty of pluck.’
    • ‘The son returns to be by his father's bedside, and finds that the old man has still a lot of pluck that he displays when his old friend turn up.’
    • ‘While fast food restaurants require their workers to have a high school diploma, street vendors only need some cash and a bit of pluck to start up their business.’
    • ‘And when I was here a few weeks ago, I met with a number of those families, and I was impressed by their pluck, their spirit.’
    • ‘What the Borders team lacked in class it made up for in pluck.’
    • ‘The goal is to ensure that patients' spirits - their source of both peace and pluck - remain intact.’
    • ‘After returning to terra firma the photographer said: ‘It was a lot further up that I realised and I admire the builders for their pluck in being able to work up so high.’’
    • ‘But their leaders were full of admiration for their pluck and cheerful acceptance of the conditions.’
    • ‘But her considerable pluck, vivid imagination, and true talent enable her to regain the respect of her judgmental community.’
    courage, bravery, nerve, pluckiness, boldness, courageousness, braveness, backbone, spine, daring, spirit, intrepidness, intrepidity, fearlessness, mettle, determination, fortitude, resolve, resolution, stout-heartedness, hardihood, dauntlessness, valour, doughtiness, heroism, audacity
    grit, guts, spunk, gutsiness, gumption
    bottle, ballsiness
    moxie, cojones, sand
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  • 2The heart, liver, and lungs of an animal as food.

    • ‘Put the pluck into cold salted water, boil, then skim and simmer for 1 hour.’
    • ‘Wash the pluck and put in a pan of boiling water and boil for 1 hour.’



Late Old English ploccian, pluccian, of Germanic origin; related to Flemish plokken; probably from the base of Old French ( es)peluchier to pluck. Sense 1 of the noun is originally boxers' slang.