\ ˈplüm How to pronounce plume (audio) \

Definition of plume

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a feather of a bird: such as
a : a large conspicuous or showy feather
c : plumage
d : a cluster of distinctive feathers
2a : material (such as a feather, cluster of feathers, or a tuft of hair) worn as an ornament
b : a token of honor or prowess : prize
3 : something resembling a feather (as in shape, appearance, or lightness): such as
a : a plumose appendage of a plant
b : an elongated and usually open and mobile column or band (as of smoke, exhaust gases, or blowing snow)
c : an animal structure having a main shaft bearing many hairs or filamentous parts especially : a full bushy tail
d : any of several columns of molten rock rising from the earth's lower mantle that are theorized to drive tectonic plate movement and to underlie hot spots


plumed; pluming

Definition of plume (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to provide or deck with feathers
b : to array showily
2 : to indulge (oneself) in pride with an obvious or vain display of self-satisfaction
3 of a bird
a : to preen and arrange the feathers of (itself)
b : to preen and arrange (feathers)

Illustration of plume

Illustration of plume


P plume 2a

In the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of plume in a Sentence

Noun a hat with bright ostrich plumes the Nobel Prize for Literature is the plume that all authors covet Verb that jerk plumes himself on his supposed athletic skills
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Just let 'er rip, like a whale breaching the surface of the ocean and gusting out a great proud plume! Star Tribune, "Lileks: Knowing the vaccine timing would be a real shot in the arm," 29 Jan. 2021 The plume of smoke is an almost orderly stripe, two miles wide and about ten miles long, blowing southeast from the fire in St. Helena. Dave Eggers, The New Yorker, "All That Could Burn," 11 Oct. 2020 State traffic cameras showed a large black smoke plume. Fox News, "Train carrying crude oil derails, burns north of Seattle," 23 Dec. 2020 State traffic cameras showed a large black smoke plume. Jessica Flores, USA TODAY, "BNSF train carrying crude oil derails, catches fire in Washington state near Canadian border," 22 Dec. 2020 While this dust plume may seem inconvenient, there is one potential perk. Kelly Corbett, House Beautiful, "A Massive Dust Plume Is Headed for the Southeastern U.S. This Weekend," 25 June 2020 To anyone living in the direct path of the dust plume, the dust cloud poses a significant hazard to public health. Sabrina Imbler, The Atlantic, "Saharan Dust Storms Are Giving Earth Life," 24 June 2020 The plume of Saharan dust is expected to move over the Southeastern US next week. Kelly Corbett, House Beautiful, "A Massive Dust Plume Is Headed for the Southeastern U.S. This Weekend," 25 June 2020 Science News reports that researchers still aren’t sure what caused the stratospheric plume of smoke to become encircled in its own private vortex. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, "Australia’s Fires Sent Smoke 19 Miles High," 24 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Toilet plume aside, Winner says the steel surfaces, doorknobs, and toilet handles in a public restroom pose the greatest risk. Claire Gillespie,, "Is It Safe to Use a Public Restroom During the Pandemic? Not Exactly, According to a New Study," 16 June 2020 Patrick still painted, filling the family home with idyllic landscapes: a single cabin in the mountains with smoke pluming from its chimney, or a lone figure in a canoe paddling through the wilderness. Alex Perry, Outside Online, "The Last Days of John Allen Chau," 24 July 2019 While the video describes that the engine fire test duration went as expected, fire continued to burn around the Starhopper until a massive fireball exploded around it a few minutes after pluming up high over the test area into the night sky. Richard Tribou,, "Video shows SpaceX Starhopper engulfed in fireball during test," 15 July 2019 Ash plumes shooting thousands of feet into the sky from the summit have raised concerns about air quality. Heidi Chang,, "Evacuations ordered in Hawaii as fast-moving lava threatens neighborhoods," 1 June 2018 Winds blew much of the 30,000-foot (9,100-meter) plume away from people. Fox News, "The Latest: No end in sight for Hawaii's erupting volcano," 18 May 2018 An early morning 18-wheeler crash Sunday (May 13) on eastbound Interstate 10 in St. Martin Parish has left lanes closed and smoke pluming into the air, according to Louisiana State Police. Hanna Krueger,, "I-10 east closed in St. Martin Parish after 18-wheeler crash: State Police," 13 May 2018 This occurred when exhaust plumes from the Falcon 9 rocket's second stage depleted plasma levels across a 900-km wide area, which the scientists say probably caused about a 1-meter error in GPS navigation programs. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "SpaceX launch last year punched huge, temporary hole in the ionosphere," 22 Mar. 2018 Heavy black smoke plumed from the building by the time fire crews arrived. Keri Blakinger, Houston Chronicle, "Fryer sparks overnight fire at Houston tofu maker's warehouse," 10 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'plume.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of plume


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for plume


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin pluma small soft feather — more at fleece

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about plume

Time Traveler for plume

Time Traveler

The first known use of plume was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for plume

Last Updated

20 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Plume.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for plume



English Language Learners Definition of plume

: a feather or group of feathers on a bird
: a decoration made of feathers or something similar
: something (such as smoke, steam, or water) that rises into the air in a tall, thin shape


\ ˈplüm How to pronounce plume (audio) \

Kids Definition of plume

1 : a large or showy feather of a bird
2 : an ornamental feather or tuft of feathers (as on a hat)
3 : something shaped like a large feather a plume of smoke

Other Words from plume

plumed \ ˈplümd \ adjective a plumed cap

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on plume

What made you want to look up plume? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

February 2021 Words of the Day Quiz

  • squirrel in winter
  • Which is a synonym of perdure?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!