Green’s Dictionary of Slang

pluck v.

1. to have sexual intercourse.

Shakespeare Pericles 19: Never pluckt yet I can assure you.
[UK]T. Killigrew Parson’s Wedding (1664) III ii: A girl of Fifteen, smooth as Satten [...] Plump and of the first down: I’le take her with her guts in her Belly, and warm her with a Countrey-dance or two, then pluck her, and lay her dry betwixt a couple of sheets.
[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy IV 197: All the way after they did kiss, And all the way homeward they pluckt her.
[UK]Progress of a Rake 11: You shall have the first plucking of her Feathers.
[US]Trimble 5000 Adult Sex Words and Phrases.

2. to rob, to defraud.

[UK]Mercurius Democritus 22-29 Dec. 301: In the like manner he went to the Grocers, telling the same Tale [...] and so left them a birding for Wood-cocks and pluck’d them of their best Feathers.
[UK]T. Jordan ‘The Cheaters Cheated’ Royal Arbor 35: nim.: Good morrow, fellow Filcher / What! do we sink or swim? / Thou look’st so like a pilcher. filch.: Good morrow fellow Nim. / The devils in our destiny, / I cannot get a pluck.
[Ire]Head Art of Wheedling 109: He dives into their pockets, and sends them home pluckt.
[UK]Character of a Town-Miss in C. Hindley Old Bk Collector’s Misc. 4: Having thus got the Woodcock into the Pitfall, she resolves to Pluck him.
[UK]Belle’s Stratagem 15: May I never pluck another cull, if I don’t make Sir Robert Petres [...] take you into immediate custodyl.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Nov. IX 82/2: As they had plucked me of the last feather, I got up, and, in imitation of my betters, twang’d off a few dam’mes, and retired.
[UK]B.H. Malkin (trans.) Adventures of Gil Blas (1822) II 169: I decamped as expeditiously as my legs could carry me [...] without caring a curse what became of the young brood I had plucked.
[UK]Egan Life in London (1869) 63: ’Tis no rebuke / For a Greek to pluck all, from a groom to a duke.
[UK]Chester Chron. 10 July 3/4: The case was dismissed, and this green-plucked-goose was obliged to leave the Court [...] with empty pockets.
[UK]Marryat Peter Simple (1911) 30: ‘You’re not the first greenhorn that they have plucked. Well,’ said he, as he walked away, ‘keep the key of your own chest – that’s all’.
[US]G.G. Foster N.Y. in Slices 29: The spy finds no difficulty in leading a willing victim to the gambling-house, where he is scientifically plucked, and left to make his way to his hotel, a ruined, miserable man.
[UK]Sam Sly 13 Jan. 4/2: ‘Doctor’ Green supplied the noxious drug, and always managed to get a decent fee[...] from the plucked one, for pro- curing, or pretending to procure an antidote.
[UK]G.A. Sala Gaslight and Daylight 88: The sporting gent [...] who is so stupendously knowing, and is so stupidly and grievously plucked by the most transparent sharpers upon earth!
[UK]J. Greenwood Seven Curses of London 412: It was evident that he was ‘nothing to them,’ either as a comrade or a gull to be plucked.
[US]J. O’Connor Wanderings of a Vagabond 329: They viewed every gambler who set up his game in their midst, as a fat subject to be plucked by them.
[UK]‘Old Calabar’ Won in a Canter I 115: ‘He would be a deuced good fellow now — at least [...] as long as he has got any feathers, and would allow himself to be plucked’.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 3 June 2/2: The rustics who come to New York for a lark mustn’t be surprised if they get ‘plucked’ and ‘roasted’.
[UK]Sporting Times 3 Aug. 3/1: The method of plucking the mug varies according to circumstances .
[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 19 Oct. 6/2: E. Benzon, the ‘Jewbilly’ [...] has been plucked in less time and left barer than any previous pigeon.
[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 6 Dec. 5/1: The Old ’Un having once been at Nottingham goose fair, where he was plucked.
[UK]J. Caminada Twenty-Five Years of Detective Life I 152: During the racing season there is a large class of thieves who attend the principal meetings [...] for ‘plucking’ any ‘greenhorn’ across whom they may come.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 19 June 4/2: The Long Firm deliberately laid themselves out to pluck the public.
[US]G. Bronson-Howard Enemy to Society 190: He was immediately thrown into a cold perspiration lest the other recall the game of cards which had ended both disastrously and offensively for the ‘plucked’ one.
[UK]S. Scott Human Side of Crook and Convict Life 16: He had got in with an Australian mob, which had run him for the sake of his name to help ‘pluck’ people with social ambitions.
[UK]V. Davis Phenomena in Crime 80: [They] will later guide his steps to [...] such spot selected for the ‘plucking’.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 161/1: Pluck. To rob a victim, usually in some form of swindle.
[Aus] ‘Whisper All Aussie Dict.’ in Kings Cross Whisper (Sydney) xxxviii 10/2: pluck: Take something from someone, not necessarily steal.
[US]Simon & Burns Corner (1998) 21: His crew tried their hand at slinging only to get plucked bad by the big boys.

3. (UK/US campus) to find lacking, deficient.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (2nd edn) n.p.: To pluck also signifies to deny a degree to a candidate at one of the universities, on account of insufficiency.].
[UK]W.T. Moncrieff Bashful Man II iv: We’re the Greeks that are never plucked.
[UK]Thackeray Vanity Fair II 131: He’s very near to getting his degree, you know. He’s only been plucked twice.
[UK]C. Reade Hard Cash I 16: Ploughed is the new Oxfordish for ‘plucked’ [...] Plucked was vulgar, so now they are ploughed.
[UK]‘Cuthbert Bede’ Little Mr. Bouncer 56: Poor Ellison has been plucked again [...] Broughton the gentleman-commoner of Worcester College, has been ploughed for his Greats.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 24 July 4/3: He has unsuccessfully contested about eight elections, and the only parallel to his case which can be found is that of the man who has been ‘plucked’ twice annually for twelve years past at the first year arts’ exam, at Mel bourne University.
[UK] ‘’Arry on Competitive Examination’ in Punch 1 Dec. 253/2: Appointment by patronage [...] I freeze onto that. / Wot patron of sense would pluck me ’cos I ain’t got grammar quite pat?
[Aus]C. Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 59: Plucked, to fail in an examination.
[US]E.H. Babbitt ‘College Words and Phrases’ in DN II:i 49: pluck, v. To report a student as deficient in examination.
[US]Wood & Goddard Dict. Amer. Sl. 40: plucked, to be. To flunk an examination.

4. (US) to arrest.

[US]‘O. Henry’ ‘Sisters of the Golden Circle’ in Four Million (1915) 206: And you might add it took five of ’em to pluck the pink.
[US]A.J. Pollock Und. Speaks n.p.: Plucked, arrested.
[US]T. Thursday ‘Case of the Honest Thieves’ in Famous Detective Story 🌐 I had to pluck ’em twice for assault and battery.
[NZ]G. Newbold Big Huey 252: pluck (v) Arrest.

5. (US campus) to expel.

[US]E.H. Babbitt ‘College Words and Phrases’ in DN II:i 49: pluck, v. To expel.

6. (US campus) to reprimand.

[US]E.H. Babbitt ‘College Words and Phrases’ in DN II:i 49: pluck, v. To take down, call to account.

7. (US) to cashier or retire a military officer.

[US]Sun (Baltimore) 5 Aug. 11/3: There are numerous retirements under way. However, it is highly unlikely that the army will make announcement of the officers who are being ‘plucked’ under the recent act permitting the Secretary of War to retire those whom a board has decreed to be ‘unsuited for further active duty’ [OED].
[US]Berrey & Van den Bark Amer. Thes. Sl.

8. (US black) to choose one’s woman.

[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 153: ‘Hey girl, I met this fine dude last night.’ They say, ‘Oh, so you done got plucked.’.
[US]R. Klein Jailhouse Jargon and Street Sl. [unpub. ms.].
[UK]N. Barlay Hooky Gear 130: Which is to say I discover her an pluck her out the crowd.

9. (Aus.) to deprive of (a sum of money).

[Aus]J. Byrell (con. 1959) Up the Cross 37: On the other hand if it [i.e. a racehorse] ain’t a dud [...] we can really pluck a few pullets.
[Aus]J. Byrell Lairs, Urgers & Coat-Tuggers 164: Yair - and several rails books, including one of the Waterhouses, I think, were plucked for a motza.

In derivatives

plucking (n.)

robbery, theft.

[US](con. 1900s) S. Longstreet Wilder Shore 112: Their citizens and guides who often led victims to a cul de sac for plucking.

In compounds

pluck-up fair (n.) [sense 2 above but note SE pluck up, to gather, to grab]

‘a general scramble for booty or spoil’ (OED).

Scottish Poems of the 16th cent. I 299: Quhar as he fand vs at the plukup fair, / , God knawis in Scotland quhat he had ado.
[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 899/2: ca.1570–1650.

In phrases

pluck a pigeon (v.) [pigeon n.1 (2a)]

1. to fleece a victim.

[UK]F. Reynolds How to Grow Rich I ii: I suppose my sister has so plucked the pigeons in my absence, that there’s scarcely a feather left in town.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Apr. IV 47/1: I was instantly looked up to as an impending pigeon by the family and every preparation was made for the plucking.
[UK]C.M. Westmacott Eng. Spy I 272: On gain he’s now intent, / To deal a flush, or cog a die, / Or plan a deep confed’racy / To pluck a pigeon bare.
[UK]Vidocq Memoirs (trans. W. McGinn) I 54: This interesting personage asked ‘when the pigeon would be quite plucked’.
[UK]J. Caminada Twenty-Five Years of Detective Life II 330: I often called upon the quack and had many a bit of chaff with him as to the state of business, and his ‘plucking of the pigeons’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 10 Dec. 20/3: I shouldn’t so much mind if there was any truth in it, but to be bounced by a pair o’ plucked pigeons like them two chaps is a bit over the odds.

2. in weak use, to conclude a business deal.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 11 Dec. Red Page/2: The Yankee agent picks out the editor he thinks would harmonise best with you socially. [...] Very often he doesn’t handle your manuscript at all. He trusts to your honor to return him his commission when the pigeon has been plucked.

SE in slang uses

In phrases

pluck a rose (v.) (also pull a rose) [euph.]

1. to visit the lavatory.

Dobson’s Drie Bobbs final Ch.: One of the maides went into the calfehouse to pul a rose, and as it woulde be, she pist into hir mistris necke vnknowne to hir.
[UK]Middleton & Rowley The Changeling I ii: At eight walk, thats leg-hour, at nine gather flowers and pluck a rose.
[UK]T. Nabbes Microcosmus Act III: I play the Gardner likewise, and attend her alwaies when shee goes to pluck a Rose.
[UK]Swift ‘Strephon and Chloe’ Miscellanies V (1736) 31: None ever saw her pluck a Rose [...] Squat on her Hams, to make Maid’s Water.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Pluck [...] To pluck a rose; an expression said to be used by women for going to the necessary house, which in the country usually stands in the garden.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.

2. to have sexual intercourse.

[UK]E. Gayton Pleasant Notes III v 93: What ever thou and the foule pusse did doe (sub Rosa as they say) while you were plucking of her Rose.
pluck the riband (v.) (also pluck the ribbon) [SE riband, ribbon, presumably the tavern bell-pull]

to ring the bell at a tavern.

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Pluck the Ribond or Pluck Sir O----n, ring the Bell at the Tavern.
[UK]New Canting Dict. n.p.: pluck the ribbon Ring the Bell at the Tavern.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. 1725].
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Pluck [...] pluck the ribbon; ring the bell.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum.