Definition of pluck in English:

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Pronunciation: /plʌk/


[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
More example sentences
  • And boy, Steve reached down today and plucked it just like picking a flower.
  • 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.
remove, pick off, pick, pull, pull off/out, extract, take, take off
1.1Catch hold of and pull quickly: she plucked his sleeve [no object]: brambles plucked at her jeans
More example sentences
  • Riga grinned proudly and plucked at the sleeve of his shirt aimlessly.
  • I plucked at the sleeve of the jacket Roop had given me, trying to think of a change in conversation.
  • Morgan plucked at his sleeve and they both sat down silently on the other bed.
pull (at), tug (at), clutch (at), snatch (at), take hold of, grab, seize, catch (at), tweak, twitch, jerk
informal yank
1.2Pull the feathers from (a bird’s carcass) to prepare it for cooking: the turkeys are plucked and cleaned by machine
More example sentences
  • He was already plucking the last few feathers and rubbing spices into the carcasses in preparation for cooking.
  • 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.
  • 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
rare deplume, displume
1.3Pull some of the hairs from (one’s eyebrows) to make them look neater: whether you pluck your eyebrows depends on your type of looks
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • Teen magazines are full of articles on how to lose weight, get the right hair highlights, pluck eyebrows effectively, and so on.
  • My eyes are small like my dad's, and my eyebrows have been plucked much thinner than natural.
1.4 Geology (Of glacier ice) break off (pieces of rock) by mechanical force.
Example sentences
  • 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
More example sentences
  • Two of the people rescued were plucked from near-death situations.
  • Rescuers managed to pluck the Dutch man from the stricken boat.
  • Dozens of cats and dogs, even snakes and exotic birds have been plucked to safety and taken to temporary shelters.
3Sound (a musical instrument or its strings) with one’s finger or a plectrum: she picked up her guitar and plucked it idly
More example sentences
  • I sat with the lute in my lap, trying to reach for forgotten notes as my fingers plucked the strings.
  • I watched her fingers pluck the strings gracefully, feeling her courage getting greater with the song.
  • She started strumming, and plucking the strings, and finally singing.
strum, pick, thrum, twang, plunk, finger;
play pizzicato


[mass noun]
1Spirited and determined courage: it must have taken a lot of pluck to walk along a path marked ‘Danger’
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
informal grit, guts, spunk, gutsiness, gumption
British informal bottle, ballsiness
North American informal moxie, cojones, sand
vulgar slang balls
2The heart, liver, and lungs of an animal as food.
Example sentences
  • 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.


pluck up courage



[usually in combination]: a goose-plucker
More example sentences
  • Hailing from a musical family, he started out as a guitar plucker.
  • Rubber workers would be required to tap 50 extra trees per day, for example, while tea-leaf pluckers would have to increase their harvest from 14 to 16 kilograms per day.
  • They have also rejected employers' demands for productivity-linked wage rises and financial penalties against tea pluckers who fail to meet their daily quota.




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.

  • pull from Old English:

    A word that originally expressed a short sharp action, more like pluck (Old English) or snatch (Middle English), all words with obscure origins. To pull the plug is to prevent something from happening or continuing. Nowadays this probably brings to mind the image of someone disconnecting an electrical device by pulling out the plug from the socket, but the plug referred to here is one found in a forerunner of the flushing toilet, used from the mid 18th century. To flush it you had to pull a stopper or plug. To pull someone's leg, or tease them, has been used since the late 19th century, but the idea probably goes back to the 16th century, when you might pull someone by the ear, nose or sleeve to insult or make fun of them. If you pull out all the stops you make a very great effort to achieve something. The stops in this expression are the knobs or levers on a church organ which control the pipes. Pulling out all the stops will obviously result in the maximum volume possible.

Words that rhyme with pluck

buck, Canuck, chuck, cluck, cruck, duck, luck, muck, puck, ruck, schmuck, shuck, struck, stuck, suck, truck, tuck, upchuck, yuck

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: pluck

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