Definition of plume in English:



  • 1A long, soft feather or arrangement of feathers used by a bird for display or worn by a person for ornament:

    ‘a hat with a jaunty ostrich plume’
    • ‘Great Egrets were nearly wiped out in the United States in the late 1800s when their plumes were fashionable on women's hats.’
    • ‘They signify social status (such as warrior, married person, or elder) by items of adornment such as feather plumes and large coiled, copper necklaces and armlets.’
    • ‘Finally we were outside and he was walking beside me in his favourite cloak that made him look like a captain, something he had always wanted to be and his wide brimmed hat with the feather plume.’
    • ‘At the end of her tail there was a plume of red feathers.’
    • ‘Crests and plumes on the head and neck are present during breeding.’
    • ‘Juveniles have a dark crown with no plumes or ruff, and a mottled neck.’
    • ‘Unlike static ornaments, head plumes are highly modifiable and likely signal immediate information regarding a male's intent, similar to a coverable badge.’
    • ‘The female has a tan head with a small feather plume.’
    • ‘Although fairly common now, the great egret came perilously close to extinction at the hands of the hat trade at the beginning of the twentieth century; egret plumes were deemed a fashion accessory.’
    • ‘Courtship includes many displays - vocalizing, bowing, bill tapping, and stretching to show off nuptial plumes.’
    • ‘Callipepla californica are new world quail, birds that have chunky, rounded bodies and crests or head plumes.’
    • ‘There was one other man there, dressed in fine clothes and wearing a maroon hat with an extravagant plume of feathers on the side.’
    • ‘In the world of high fashion, ladies donned hats adorned with heron and egret plumes, and many even wore elaborate millinery creations containing entire bird bodies.’
    • ‘Her head was crowned by a winged helmet with a plume of brightly colored feathers on top.’
    • ‘Great plumes of fur and feather that were black as the deepest caverns framed his face and trailed down his back, waving wildly in the lightest breeze.’
    • ‘The chair back is the embodiment of elegance, suggesting an open plume of feathers supported by lyrical S-shaped side rails.’
    • ‘Endless display takes place on old nest platforms and consists of elaborate neck movements with crest and neck plumes erect and accompanied by bill-snapping and a variety of blood-curdling calls.’
    • ‘The highly modified courtship plumes found in many species of birds of paradise are only one extreme of the diversity of courtship plumes found in birds.’
    • ‘Bird plumes, which were used to adorn women's hats and other items in the fashion industry, were worth more than gold.’
    • ‘Ornamental bird plumes, by weight, were more valuable than gold.’
    feather, crest, quill
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Zoology A part of an animal's body that resembles a feather:
      ‘the antennae are divided into large feathery plumes’
      • ‘The creature had a large plume of strands on its head pointing upwards and its body appeared silvery and reflective.’
  • 2A long cloud of smoke or vapour resembling a feather as it spreads from its point of origin:

    ‘as he spoke, the word was accompanied by a white plume of breath’
    • ‘All they could see from where they were was a massive dust cloud and plumes of black smoke.’
    • ‘A plume of blue exhaust streams out, the engine screams - and we're off, shooting along the high wire.’
    • ‘The video showed a white truck exploding and black plumes of smoke billowing into the air.’
    • ‘Their breath rose in white plumes as they walked to the driveway and over to Katie's car.’
    • ‘And a little chemical lab analyzes the sweat, body odor, and skin flakes in the human thermal plume - the halo of heat that surrounds each person.’
    • ‘Scientists plot such data to identify the signature of a hydrothermal plume - a geothermal phenomenon that indicates the presence of an underwater vent.’
    • ‘The stunt came just days after the Vatican signalled the election of new Pope with a plume of white smoke.’
    • ‘Detecting the missile's body near or through the bright exhaust plume is very challenging, even with a suite of multiwavelength sensors.’
    • ‘Two plumes of black smoke can be seen pouring from the building and officials say it is an ‘emergency case’.’
    • ‘Every now and then they would fire a pair of missiles which would explode and send a plume of darker smoke above the white haze of gunsmoke already hanging above the camp.’
    • ‘Thus basal primates might have used ethanol plumes to locate ripening fruits as well as associated fauna.’
    • ‘All the journalists in the house - three of us - ran outside to see a white plume of smoke rising close by in the north.’
    • ‘In this hypothesis, ethanol plumes from ripening fruits may have served for millions of years to guide primates to ripening fruit crops and also served as an appetite stimulus and welcome source of dietary calories.’
    • ‘In all directions, you can see huge plumes of smoke.’
    • ‘The intense flames sent plumes of smoke into the sky and initially prevented police and rescue workers from approaching the bus.’
    • ‘Fruit flies track ethanol plumes to find fruit.’
    • ‘Moreover, because the rift valley of this ridge is very shallow, the hydrothermal plumes carrying live bacteria and animal larvae can get out of the valley and spread in the general ocean currents.’
    • ‘She hung up, switched on the television, and saw plumes of white smoke etched against the blue Texas sky.’
    • ‘The whale leaves a trench in the ocean floor and trails a plume of mud behind it as it surfaces.’
    • ‘Their families were said to have been watching the disaster unfold live on television, as footage showed a bright light followed by plumes of white smoke plumes streaking diagonally across the sky.’
    1. 2.1 A mass of material, typically a pollutant, spreading from a source:
      ‘a radioactive plume’
      • ‘New research sponsored by NASA may soon help scientists do a better job of tracking pollution plumes around the world and help provide people more advance warning of unhealthy air.’
      • ‘A very loud siren will give a shrill whoop-whoop if a deadly plume of gas gets loose, and we're issuing special protective equipment for each home, business, and school.’
      • ‘"The ash plume can travel, and the hazard to aviation is real, " Steele said.’
      • ‘A huge radioactive plume was spreading outward from the exploded reactor core, threatening to contaminate everything in its path with potentially fatal isotopes.’
      • ‘The plume contained toxic pollutants, possibly cyanide, from foam, oil, acrylic paints and tyres burnt in the blaze.’
      • ‘While fires are the major contributor to these carbon monoxide plumes, he suspects, at times, industrial sources may also be a factor.’
      • ‘Methane gas plumes are also attributed to at least one plane disappearing, because it exploded when it entered the plume.’
      • ‘And the pollution plumes from power stations in Adelaide have been used as a case study.’
      • ‘Another instrument keeps daily track of the carbon monoxide plumes from fires and the scope of pollution produced regionally and globally.’
      • ‘The whole scene was densely shrouded in thick plumes of sulphur.’
      • ‘If this happens, the cooling of the reactor fuel would stop, the radioactive core would start to melt, and the plant will belch a radioactive plume that will threaten millions downwind.’
      • ‘High levels of nitrates and/or bacteria indicate that you have a plume of pollution seeping into your well, possibly from a local farm or industrial area.’
      • ‘The scientists discovered that crabs of diverse sizes feed on vast numbers of zooplankton that are killed by toxic sulphurous plumes emitted from underwater vents.’
      • ‘Regardless of the type of evacuation system used, the capture device should be placed as close as possible to the source of the plume.’
      • ‘The accident sent large plumes of chlorine gas into the air.’
  • 3Geology
    A localized column of hotter magma rising by convection in the mantle, believed to cause volcanic activity in locations away from plate margins.

    • ‘The wide distribution of the volcanics implies that a mantle plume was present beneath northern Australia in the past.’
    • ‘The spatial and chronological evolution of the Canary Islands' volcanism is due to eastward progression of the slow-moving African plate over a mantle plume.’
    • ‘Because mantle material in the hot-spot plumes rises quickly through the thin layer where leaching occurs, it doesn't lose as many of its trace elements as slow-rising rock does.’
    • ‘Although it is paradoxical that Iceland's hottest region boasts its biggest ice cap, it is no coincidence: the ice sheet is huge and permanent precisely because lava flowing from the mantle plume has built the mountains so high.’
    • ‘The presence of a mantle plume beneath the region is widely documented.’


  • 1[no object] Spread out in a shape resembling a feather:

    ‘smoke plumed from the chimneys’
    • ‘‘God, I hate this war,’ Marcs said, as another explosion plumed through the air.’
    • ‘Fire raged through the compound, smoke pluming up above it all.’
    • ‘Just a day after the enclave gathered to choose the successor to John Paul II, white smoke plumed from the Vatican's Sistine Chapel and the bells pealed across Rome.’
    • ‘‘Loren,’ she breathed, her exhalation pluming in the frosty air, ‘do you see those cars over there?’’
    • ‘Thousands of doves took to a sky already blackened by a massive cloud pluming over the cityscape.’
    • ‘Cigar smoke plumed toward his nostrils and he choked.’
    • ‘He could see the smoke pluming up from the fires of the camp, but neither the fires nor tents were visible yet.’
    • ‘Thick columns of boiling brown smoke are pluming from somewhere among the tower blocks in the centre.’
    • ‘Dust plumed and fell back to its original place.’
    1. 1.1[with object] Decorate with or as if with feathers:
      ‘rain began to beat down on my plumed cap’
      • ‘Another man came from behind me and removed his richly plumed helmet.’
      • ‘Long plumed white birds called over the cliff walls as the beach lay before them, their breakfast and lunch laid out for their leisure.’
      • ‘IN 1897, 46,000 plumed and scrubbed troops marched through London to mark Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee.’
      • ‘The trappings of male finery included plumed helmets, heavy epaulettes, long swords, tassels, braid, knee-high boots, gleaming escutcheons, white gloves, white trousers.’
      • ‘They finished it off with a large, white plumed hat with a lacy veil that covered her face.’
      • ‘He was wearing a dashing embroidered blood-red doublet, cape, and plumed hat.’
      • ‘And their dresses were teasing fantasies plumed with artificial feathers.’
      • ‘In some of the boats there are people standing up, wearing plumed headdresses.’
      • ‘It had a thin plumed mane of red and black across the top of the helmet fanning out like the feathers of a peacock.’
      • ‘The stalks of the heavily plumed plants were thick.’
      • ‘He was recognized by his flamboyant uniform and plumed hat.’
      • ‘They wear high, plumed hats with blue and white feathers.’
      • ‘Headdresses were extravagantly plumed helmets or crowns fusing baroque and classical styles.’
      • ‘The latter's hat rode breathtakingly high atop her massive bronze curls, a giant plumed ostrich feather finished the air.’
      • ‘They all wore their full-dress diplomatic uniforms with the characteristic three-cornered plumed hats.’
      • ‘Before him loomed two guards, tall and proud, clad in plumed helms and clutching spears shod in bronze and steel.’
      • ‘At that moment, in strode a gallantly plumed lord with his servants.’
      feathered, plumed, plumy
      View synonyms
  • 2plume oneselfarchaic (of a bird) preen itself.

    • ‘On alighting, which it does plumply, it immediately bends its body, turns its head to look behind it, performs a curious nod, utters its note, then shakes and plumes itself,’
    • ‘The Florida Cormorant is especially addicted to this practice, and dives and plumes itself several times in the day.’
    1. 2.1 Feel a great sense of self-satisfaction about something:
      ‘she plumed herself on being cosmopolitan’
      • ‘‘I could not but highly plume myself on my masterly management in getting rid of Bartleby.’’
      • ‘They made endless shrill distinctions and plumed themselves on their beauty and education and sensitivity.’
      • ‘During the past hundred years, the Western world has been pluming itself on the greatness of its achievements.’
      • ‘All men plume themselves on the improvement of society, and no man improves.’
      congratulate oneself, pat oneself on the back, pride oneself, preen oneself, feel proud about, feel self-satisfied about, boast about
      pique oneself
      View synonyms


Late Middle English: from Old French, from Latin pluma down.