1. A feather, especially a large and showy one.
2. A large feather, cluster of feathers, or similar ornament worn on a helmet, hat, or horse's harness.
3. A token of honor or achievement.
4. A mass or stream of material that resembles a long feather:a plume of smoke.
5. An area or section of air, water, or soil containing pollutants released from a point source.
6. Geology An upwelling of molten material from the earth's mantle.
v.plumed, plum·ing, plumes
1. To decorate, cover, or supply with a plume or plumes:"Her black velvet hat was plumed with a spray of violets"(Jim Rasenberger).
2. To smooth or clean (feathers) with the bill or beak; preen.
3. To congratulate (oneself) in a self-satisfied way:plumed himself on his victory.
To rise or emanate in a plume:Smoke plumed from the chimney.
[Middle English, fromOld French, fromLatinplūma.]
(click for a larger image)
(click for a larger image)plume
top: detail of a 1787 portrait of Count Josef Johann von Fries by Angelica Kauffmann (1741-1807)
bottom: volcanic plume at Mount St. Helens, photographed from Harry's Ridge
May 19, 1982
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.