\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

Participants will see more than a hundred species of native plants, many of them in peak flower or plume, in successful, persistent flowering meadows, in a wide variety of settings, both large and small. Courant Community, "Community News For The Stafford Edition," 10 July 2018 And that bloody plume, which roiled the fish-farm debate on both sides of the border in December? Morning Brief, The Seattle Times, "A look at Seattle neighborhoods where crime is (and isn’t) up and finally some good news for homebuyers | Friday Morning Brief, July 6," 6 July 2018 In the distance, a plume of smoke rose from the eastern side of the island. James Masters, CNN, "'It's in blood, the nature and the culture.' Iceland's hard World Cup work pays off," 15 June 2018 Unverified images and videos carried on social media show a tall plume of smoke rising from the property. Chris Kingdon,, "London Mandarin Oriental Hotel Fire Draws 120 Firefighters," 6 June 2018 Guatemala’s disaster-response agency said 3,265 people had been evacuated from the vicinity of the Volcán del Fuego, which erupted Sunday in a massive plume of smoke and ash, affecting at least 1.7 million people. Anthony Harrup And, WSJ, "Guatemala Searches for Missing After Deadly Volcano Eruption," 4 June 2018 Traffic videos show a massive black plume of smoke rising from the scene. Samantha Ketterer, Houston Chronicle, "4-alarm warehouse fire reported in SW Houston," 28 May 2018 Emissions from Hawaii's Kilauea volcano diminished Wednesday, a day after a plume of ash spewed from the crater in a massive cloud that rose some 12,000 feet. Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY, "It will be months before lava from Hawaii volcano can be removed from neighborhoods," 17 May 2018 Then the second piece of magic happens: The rain lets up, the low-hanging clouds begin to look, at their lower edges, like plumes of dense smoke, and the black rock of Hirta reveals itself to be the lushest shade of green. ST. Neel Mukherjee, New York Times, "A Veritable No Man’s Land, Off the Coast of Scotland," 7 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

7 Nov 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

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


full of whispering sounds

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