v. plucked, pluck·ing, plucks
1. To remove or detach by grasping and pulling abruptly with the fingers; pick: pluck a flower; pluck feathers from a chicken.
2. To pull out the hair or feathers of: pluck a chicken.
3. To remove abruptly or forcibly: plucked their child from school in midterm.
4. To give an abrupt pull to; tug at: pluck a sleeve.
5. Music To sound (the strings of an instrument) by pulling and releasing them with the fingers or a plectrum.
To give an abrupt pull; tug.
1. The act or an instance of plucking.
2. Resourceful courage and daring in the face of difficulties; spirit.
3. The heart, liver, windpipe, and lungs of a slaughtered animal.
[Middle English plukken, from Old English pluccian, probably from Vulgar Latin *piluccāre, ultimately from Latin pilāre, from pilus, hair.]
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.