: complete and confident composure or self-assurance : poise
She played several roles with equal aplomb.

Did you know?

If you do something with aplomb, you do it with composure and self-assurance—you do it with poise. This English noun aplomb was borrowed directly from French, where it carries the meanings of both “composure” and “perpendicularity.” The French word aplomb comes from the phrase “a plomb,” meaning “perpendicularly,” or literally “according to the plummet” (a plummet being a lead weight that is attached to a line and used to determine vertical alignment). Plomb has its roots in the Latin word plumbum, meaning “lead,” source too of such varied English words as plummet, plumb, plumber (which originally referred to someone who deals with or works in lead), and the symbol Pb, which designates the element lead on the periodic table. Plumbum is also the source of the word plunge, and therefore plunger. The fact that a plumber is able to use a plunger with more aplomb than most of us is, however, merely coincidence.

Choose the Right Synonym for aplomb

confidence, assurance, self-possession, aplomb mean a state of mind or a manner marked by easy coolness and freedom from uncertainty, diffidence, or embarrassment.

confidence stresses faith in oneself and one's powers without any suggestion of conceit or arrogance.

the confidence that comes from long experience

assurance carries a stronger implication of certainty and may suggest arrogance or lack of objectivity in assessing one's own powers.

handled the cross-examination with complete assurance

self-possession implies an ease or coolness under stress that reflects perfect self-control and command of one's powers.

answered the insolent question with complete self-possession

aplomb implies a manifest self-possession in trying or challenging situations.

handled the reporters with great aplomb

Examples of aplomb in a Sentence

In "The Most Famous Man in America," Applegate, a Ph.D. in American studies from Yale, tells this grand story with aplomb, intelligence and a sure feel for historical context. Michael Kazin, New York Times Book Review, 16 July 2006
Stefan Soltesz conducts the excellent chorus and orchestra with aplomb, and television director Brian Large does his usual exemplary job. Alan Wagner, Opera News, November 2001
During a script conference recounted in the New Yorker piece, Ley fielded a variety of questions with striking aplomb that sometimes verged on arrogance. Frank Kuznik, Air & Space, April/May 1995
He showed great aplomb in dealing with the reporters. you've handled a difficult situation with perfect aplomb
Recent Examples on the Web Lali is a complex and haunted character, and Hauer-King throws himself into the role with aplomb. Amber Dowling, Variety, 2 May 2024 With typical aplomb, Ms. Vendler declared Donne to be his inferior. William Grimes, New York Times, 24 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for aplomb 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'aplomb.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


French, literally, perpendicularity, from Middle French, from a plomb, literally, according to the plummet

First Known Use

1818, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of aplomb was in 1818


Dictionary Entries Near aplomb

Cite this Entry

“Aplomb.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aplomb. Accessed 23 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


: complete freedom from nervousness or uncertainty

More from Merriam-Webster on aplomb

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