Definition of pluck in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Take hold of (something) and quickly remove it from its place.

    ‘she plucked a blade of grass’
    ‘he plucked a tape from the shelf’
    • ‘The compère strides forward and plucks the microphone from the stand.’
    • ‘They strode past a cedar tree, and Caleb plucked several needles from a protruding branch.’
    • ‘Baba leans across, plucks it out of the tea, and after removing his handkerchief from his pocket, gently mops the petals.’
    • ‘He plucks a long blade of grass to chew on out of habit.’
    • ‘He plucked a blade of grass, splitting it in two.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He plucks a hibiscus flower from a bush and hands it to me.’
    • ‘He plucks old characters from obscurity, brings them together and makes them dance.’
    • ‘After some consideration, Jane plucked a light green T-shirt from her closet, and pulled on her favourite pair of jeans.’
    • ‘Then, with a sickle, Kasle plucks weeds for Rs 20 a day on the landowner's fields.’
    • ‘Each show plucks the boss of a major organisation out of the boardroom and deposits them on the shop floor.’
    • ‘He quickly kissed my lips and playfully plucked the carton of apple juice from my hand.’
    • ‘She cautiously plucked a blade of grass from the lawn, and scrutinised it.’
    • ‘She stammered, quickly plucking her favorite perfume off of her dresser and spraying some on.’
    • ‘Instead she plucks the fixings for a salad from the garden.’
    • ‘She reached over and plucked a small grass blade from his hair.’
    • ‘She sank back into the soft grass and plucked a snow white lily from it's stalk.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘And boy, Steve reached down today and plucked it just like picking a flower.’
    • ‘Hoshiko rolled onto her stomach, plucking blades of grass from the immaculate lawn.’
    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’
      • ‘She strode up to her daughter, and plucked at the pink blouse.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I looked down at myself and plucked at my jacket.’
      • ‘Joren moved quickly, plucking the young woman away from the corpse and pressing her against the wall.’
      • ‘She looked down at her clothing and plucked at the wrinkles in her tee shirt.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘His graceful hands deftly plucked at various cables and wires, reconnecting, splicing.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘His mother sank back down onto the couch and plucked at the seat.’
      • ‘She plucked at the ribbon trim on her pillowcase and didn't reply.’
      • ‘‘Well at least wash it,’ Jane wrinkled her nose as she plucked at his cloak.’
      • ‘Slightly surprised at that line of questioning I plucked at my jeans.’
      • ‘He shivered once or twice and plucked at the blanket and drew it close to his face.’
      • ‘He plucked at my elbow and we three retreated slowly, until the guard gave up and wandered away.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Morgan plucked at his sleeve and they both sat down silently on the other bed.’
      • ‘I plucked at the sleeve of the jacket Roop had given me, trying to think of a change in conversation.’
      • ‘Wondering if Manda had left it there, he quickly plucked it from its constraint.’
      • ‘She sighed again and plucked at a loose thread in her dress.’
      pull, pull at, tug, tug at, clutch, clutch at, snatch, snatch at, take hold of, grab, seize, catch, catch at, tweak, twitch, jerk
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    2. 1.2 Pull the feathers from (a bird's carcass) to prepare it for cooking.
      • ‘One day I labored in the basement kitchen plucking a hundred pigeons, burning the tougher feathers off with a hand-held torch.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Once the blood has drained, the stall-owner plucks off the feathers, removes the entrails and hands the bird over in a bag.’
      • ‘They also want cheap labour to cut the sugar cane, pluck the chickens, pick the oranges, mow the lawns and make the beds.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Then it would be slaughtered, plucked and cleaned in time for dinner on the day itself.’
      • ‘Wringing pigeons' necks, plucking and cleaning, were jobs he now did without demur.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      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.
      • ‘I got my eyebrows plucked professionally yesterday too.’
      • ‘My nails were cut and shaped, my eyebrows plucked and then a massage with sweet smelling creams.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Her eyebrows are plucked and slender and brown like her natural hair color.’
      • ‘Really need to pluck or get her eyebrows waxed or something.’
      • ‘He held a pair of tweezers in his hand, debating whether or not to pluck away the three stray hairs between his eyebrows.’
      • ‘Martha had her eyebrows plucked in a rounded and shallow arch, which added to her beauty.’
      • ‘I've also plucked hair from my eyebrows but will not go into this.’
      • ‘Teen magazines are full of articles on how to lose weight, get the right hair highlights, pluck eyebrows effectively, and so on.’
      • ‘For small, annoying hairs in inconvenient places, try plucking.’
      • ‘Avoid over plucking the eyebrows, only take stray hairs from below the brow line as a rule or get them done professionally.’
      • ‘I could live without a leg wax and having my eyebrows plucked.’
      • ‘Sarah flicked her hair over her shoulder and raised an immaculately plucked eyebrow.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It is of vital importance to pluck one's eyebrows regularly.’
      • ‘Cohen saw potential in a beauty parlour where women could get make-up done, have eyebrows plucked or false eyelash extensions applied.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 2Quickly or suddenly remove someone from a dangerous or unpleasant situation.

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

    • ‘She started strumming, and plucking the strings, and finally singing.’
    • ‘Rita picked up his guitar and plucked at the strings.’
    • ‘Could my daughter be playing me like a violin; plucking at my heart strings so I would feel loved?’
    • ‘That evening ended on a low chord with a little whimsical note plucked in the upper register.’
    • ‘The whole room was silent while the guitar was still being plucked and a few other odd noises were involved.’
    • ‘And another (rather inspired this one) when he serenaded them with a banjo while plucking the theme tune to 1970s hick-horror flick Deliverance.’
    • ‘The guitar player hesitantly plucking the same melodic line over and over again, unsure of whether to stop or to go on.’
    • ‘He let his fingernails grow long, the better to pluck his new classical guitar.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I sat with the lute in my lap, trying to reach for forgotten notes as my fingers plucked the strings.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I watched her fingers pluck the strings gracefully, feeling her courage getting greater with the song.’
    • ‘Jande let the silence stretch for a moment before she began plucking a soft, almost drone-like rhythm in the lower register.’
    • ‘It reached deep inside, plucking at the heartstrings, moving everyone's souls.’
    • ‘He has plucked and strummed the strings of the electric guitar.’
    • ‘She started plucking out tunes and she became a star and that is a great story and something we can all be inspired by.’
    • ‘In fact this is a very romantic comic, and none of it's overplayed or plucks the heartstrings unnecessarily.’
    • ‘Atkins does it all, singing and strumming and plucking, while Plummer takes a seat behind the drums.’
    strum, pick, thrum, twang, plunk, finger
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  • 1Spirited and determined courage.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘While she hints at the demons in Maya's past, she invests little intelligence or pluck in the character.’
    • ‘But their leaders were full of admiration for their pluck and cheerful acceptance of the conditions.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Wendy couldn't help but admire the pluck and ingenuity these youngsters showed.’
    • ‘Bob used plenty of pluck and hard work to get started, and then he offered other businesses the chance to get started too.’
    • ‘‘Although large and powerful, they have not the pluck and martial spirit of Englishmen,’ one soldier remarked, just before his death.’
    • ‘President Reagan is showing an awful lot of pluck given this tragedy.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Of course, not everyone has the pluck to become an entrepreneur, and most businesses fail before they get off the starting block.’
    • ‘Peter doubted the absolute truth of these statements, but he did not doubt the General's heart and his pluck.’
    • ‘For example, this time last year you highlighted the sheer day-to-day pluck and dedication of young carers in the borough.’
    • ‘But her considerable pluck, vivid imagination, and true talent enable her to regain the respect of her judgmental community.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’’
    • ‘Admiring her pluck and determination Clint reluctantly takes her on and a fascinating relationship of substitute father and daughter emerges.’
    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
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  • 2The heart, liver, and lungs of an animal as food.

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