\ ˈplüm \

Definition of plume 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a feather of a bird: such as

a : a large conspicuous or showy feather

b : contour 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

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Examples of plume in a Sentence


a hat with bright ostrich plumes the Nobel Prize for Literature is the plume that all authors covet


that jerk plumes himself on his supposed athletic skills
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Tremor-like bursts followed, with plumes of vapor occuring that April. Josh Hafner, USA TODAY, "Before Hawaii's Kilauea volcano, these active US volcanoes erupted in recent years," 14 May 2018 Does the poster feature a bunch of dudes laying on blankets with plumes of smoke swirling around them? Brittany Martin, Los Angeles Magazine, "Your Complete Guide to Music Festivals in 2018," 5 Apr. 2018 The Facebook page of the Scripps Ranch Civic Association posted photographs of a tall plume of smoke just after 3 p.m. The association said that at least one helicopter was seen making a water drop and fire crews were on the scene. Greg Moran,, "Brush fire reported on east edge of Miramar," 6 July 2018 Aside from staying away from plumes of smoke, one way to lessen the impact is to leave the fireworks to the professionals., "Today: O, Say Can You Breathe?," 4 July 2018 In the distance, the prisoners saw a skyline of chimneys, with bright orange plumes of flame shooting into the clouds. Jay Winik, WSJ, "Trump’s Critics Desecrate the Holocaust," 21 June 2018 David Woods lit a sparkler, knelt in the dry grass in Antioch and watched everyone’s favorite July Fourth firework turn the golden fields into an inferno, complete with a plume of smoke. Peter Fimrite,, "Firefighters demonstrate the danger of a Fourth of July sparkler," 19 June 2018 Kilauea’s summit has seen explosive eruptions since the current eruptive period began, and ash emissions from the summit continued Saturday, with plumes reaching around 12,000 feet, according to the USGS. Dennis Romero /, NBC News, "Kilauea eruption that destroyed homes also putting hurt on tourism," 27 May 2018 Frequent ash emissions at the Kilauea summit earlier Wednesday resulted in plumes up to 8,000 feet high from what's reported to be one of the most active volcanoes on Earth, the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency reported. Amy Lieu, Fox News, "Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano continues spouting lava, ash," 25 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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.

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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

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Learn More about plume

Statistics for plume

Last Updated

12 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for plume

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

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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 \

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

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Comments on plume

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to make amends

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