Posted by R. Berg on July 22, 2004
In Reply to: Plumb loco posted by Brian from Shawnee on July 22, 2004
: : : I've often heard in American movies, the guy from out of town could use a term like 'plum crazy'. This use of the word 'plum' is quite different to say 'plum job'.
: : : If someone does a 'plum job', then it's a good job. But if someone's 'plum crazy', then he's really crazy.
: : : I would assume the use of 'plum' in plum job is of English origin. However, the 'plum crazy' version sounds US based to me.
: : : Can anyone clarify both the basis for the term 'plum crazy' and the origin of using the word 'plum' to describe something as being 'very or really' whatever?
: : 'A guess. 'Plum' in the crazy sense is to do with 'plumb' - ie lead. Lead poisoning can make you demented, among other things.
: : 'Plum' in the other sense is perhaps related to the use of the word as a slang expression for £1000 - 'a plum' was a thousand pounds. Why it became a slang word I don't know!
: It's also "plumb loco", especially in cowboy movies. Loco of course, is Sp*nish for "crazy".
The word is definitely "plumb," not "plum." One sense of "plumb" in the American Heritage Dictionary is "Utterly; completely; entirely: 'plumb tired'" (labeled "informal"). I'm guessing that this meaning came from the use of a plumb (lead weight) in building. An architectural element that matches a plumb line is absolutely ("utterly, completely, entirely") vertical.