To Plumb the Depths (Origin)

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Origin of the Saying "To Plumb the Depths"?

To plumb the depths means to let someone or yourself down severely. It also means to explore intensely. This saying has a nautical origin. It derives from when a sailor would be required to lower a lead weight into the sea on a length of rope to determine the depth of the water. In doing so, he would be required to lower the weight to the very bottom of the sea. You are perceived as being as low as the lead weight when you let someone (or yourself) down badly. Also, extending the rope all the way to the bottom means that you have kept going until you have your answer, and this is why to plumb the depths also means to explore intensely.
To Plumb the Depths (Origin)

Examples of Use:

  • Cassandra plumbed the depths of despair when her husband left her.
  • The questions this evening are plumbing the depths of stupidity.
  • I had no money for food. I looked for coins down the back of my sofa and under the seats of my car. I was really plumbing the depths.

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