Definition of plumbago in English:


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nounplural noun plumbagos

  • 1

    old-fashioned term for graphite

    ‘The only mine in Great Britain which yields plumbago, or black lead as it is called, suitable for pencil-making, is situated in one of the mountains at Borrowdale, in Cumberland, and is about 1000 ft. deep.’
    • ‘For no matter how hard they looked, no one could find a second deposit of plumbago that could be cut into sticks and used to make pencils’


    Early 17th century (denoting an ore such as galena containing lead): from Latin, from plumbum ‘lead’. The sense ‘graphite’ arose through its use for pencil leads.

  • 2An evergreen flowering shrub or climber which is widely distributed in warm regions and grown elsewhere as a greenhouse or indoor plant.

    Also called leadwort

    Genus Plumbago, family Plumbaginaceae

    ‘I have several blue plumbagos in pots on my patio, and they do very well.’
    • ‘The planter behind is filled with fragrant vines; two ‘Royal Cape’ plumbagos in red pots flank the front posts.’
    • ‘Prune greenhouse and conservatory climbers, such as plumbago and passionflower.’
    • ‘Cut back robust greenhouse climbers such as passion flowers and plumbago to within a few inches of the old wood.’
    • ‘Pruning to increase flowering is particularly true with some indigenous shrubs such as plumbago or Cape honeysuckle.’
    • ‘While the garden's toughest souls - including agaves, plumbago and ornamental grasses - remain healthy enough to prevent us from feeling total despair, other plants are showing signs of stress.’
    • ‘Like a wingless albatross I plummeted two storeys into an overgrown plumbago.’
    • ‘Bees hum in the plumbago.’
    • ‘The house still stands - a jolly yellow house, with green roof, and a begnonia and plumbago hedge, with poinsettias in the front garden.’


    Named from the colour of the flowers.



/pləmˈbāɡō/ /pləmˈbeɪɡoʊ/