Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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PLUMB, n., adj., v., adv. Also plum(m). Sc. form and usages of Eng. plumb, a lead sinker.

I. n. 1. A deep pool in a river or on the sea-bed, a drop, deep hole (Fif., Rxb. 1825 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., “now specially in place-names”; Ayr.. Rxb. 1966). Also in n.Eng. dial. Gsw. c.1780  Gsw. Past & Present (1884) III. 189:
There were, however, one or two places in this part of the Clyde which went by the name of plumbs or holes, where several accidents have occurred.
Sc. 1835  Wilson Noctes Amb. ( 1863) IV. 235:
Tak tent you dinna droon me in some plum.
Lnk. 1877  W. McHutchison Poems 90:
An' fish'd for days in Bailie's Plum, Big bairdocks wi' a preen.
Ayr. 1895  H. Ochiltree Redburn xv.:
The “plums” were the only parts of its narrow channel that showed signs of water.
Ayr. 1913  J. Service R. Cummell 86:
You'll be drooned yet in the deepest plumb o' the mill-dam.
s.Sc. 1926  H. McDiarmid Drunk Man 30:
Le'e go as you maun in the end, And droon in your plumm o' ale.

2. The sound made by a fall into a deep pool, a plump (see quot.). Gall. 1824  MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 384:
Plumb. The noise a stone makes when plunged into a deep pool of water; people guess as to a pool's depth by this plumb.

II. adj. In combs. plum dental, perpendicular, upright (Sh. 1894); fig. of persons: sensible, sane, “right in the head.” The form is phs. jocularly altered from perpendicular conflated with Eng. plumb; plumb-soled, flat-footed, plain-soled (Fif., Slg. 1939 M. M. Banks Cal. Customs Scot. II. 86). Sh. 1951 12 :
He's no plumdental — i.e. not sound in the head, a bit daft.

III. v., intr. To drop through water or the like like a stone, to plunge down perpendicularly, dive. Obs. in Eng. in 14th c. Sc. 1708  Edb. Gazette (12 Aug.):
George Williamson, translator in Edinburgh, who . . . plums, dowks, and performs all the antics that any swimmer can do.

IV. adv. Straight, in an undeviating manner, without any qualification or reservation, wholeheartedly, in phr. to vote plum, to give all one's votes to one candidate, “plump for” one party or person in an election. Cf. U.S. to vote plump, Eng. to plump for. It is uncertain whether plumb or plump was the orig. form in this sense. Sc. 1736  H. Dalrymple Reasons of Dissent 33:
One of those, 'tis likely, who bound himself by Bond to vote plum in the Election for that Burgh [Kinghorn] last Election.

Plumb n., adj., v., adv.

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"Plumb n., adj., v., adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 10 Dec 2018 <>



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