From Middle English plommet (“ball of lead, plumb of a bob-line”), recorded since 1382, from Old French plommet or plomet, the diminutive of plom, plum (“lead, sounding lead”), from Latin plumbum (“lead”). The verb is first recorded in 1626, originally meaning “to fathom, take soundings", from the noun.
plummet (plural plummets)
- (archaic, nautical) A piece of lead attached to a line, used in sounding the depth of water; a plumb bob or a plumb line.
- 1610–1611 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Tempest”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act III, scene iii], page 13, column 2:
- I'le ſeeke him deeper than ere plummet ſounded, / And with him there lye mudded.
- (archaic) Hence, any weight.
- 1945, Ernie Pyle, Here Is Your War: Story of G.I. Joe, The World Publishing Company, page 93:
- His parachute was shot half away, and if he'd jumped he would have fallen like a plummet.
- (archaic) A piece of lead formerly used by schoolchildren to rule paper for writing (that is, to mark with rules, with lines).
- A violent or dramatic fall.
- (figurative) A decline; a fall; a drop.
- 2010 December 29, Chris Whyatt, “Chelsea 1 - 0 Bolton”, in BBC:
- Yet another seriously under-par performance is unlikely to provide any real answers to their remarkable plummet in form - but it proves they can at least churn out a much-needed result.
- (intransitive) To drop swiftly, in a direct manner; to fall quickly.
- After its ascent, the arrow plummeted to earth.
- 2022 December 14, Christian Wolmar, “No Marston Vale line trains... and no one in charge seems to 'give a damn'”, in RAIL, number 972, page 46:
- Passenger numbers had been rising sharply. But the replacement of the services by buses, which take far longer because of the number of stations in out-of-the-way villages on the route, will ensure they plummet again.