According to Google, the word "plummet" means "fall or drop straight down at high speed."

So, if I want to say that something quickly shoots upward, would "plummet upward" make sense, or sound normal to the native ear? If not, what would a good substitute be?

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    It is illogical. It would be said only as a witticism. "Shoots|rockets upwards" are common phrases for that sort of motion.
    – Avon
    Jul 8, 2015 at 22:35
  • 2
    It would only make sense to me if gravity was somehow flipped.
    – herisson
    Jul 8, 2015 at 22:36
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    Plummet comes from a small lead weight falling straight down, as on a plumb-line.
    – TimR
    Jul 8, 2015 at 22:37
  • @Avon, thank you! Your comment is just what I needed. Jul 8, 2015 at 22:41
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    "Plummet" is derived from a word meaning "lead", via the concept of a plumb line. This makes the humorous idiom " to go up like a lead balloon" a kind of cousin of "plummet", and I think neither would ever be expected to mean, without irony, to "rise rapidly straight up".
    – Karasinsky
    Jul 8, 2015 at 22:42

3 Answers 3


Plummet comes from "plumb line", which is a heavy lead weight on a string used to determine water depth. Because it is heavy it sinks very rapidly.

The direct antonym would be "buoy up" from buoy, an anchored float that sits on the surface of the water. If underwater, a buoy floats rapidly to the surface. That might work, depending on your context.

A better antonym might be "soar"

  • 1
    Or "Rocket" to convey the speed of motion.
    – Caleb
    Jul 9, 2015 at 4:22
  • I like "Rocket", but it might be slightly ambiguous. A rocket could be moving horizontally.
    – Rob Deary
    Jan 4, 2016 at 22:05

No. Plummet always means to rapidly drop straight down.


Plummet comes from the Latin plumbum, meaning "lead", the metal. Have you ever seen a chunk of lead fall skyward?

Incidentally, plumbum is also the origin of "plumber", as pipes used to made with pipe, before people realized how neurotoxic lead is, and "plumb", meaning both vertical (from a lead weight used to draw perfectly vertical lines) and derivatively, "directly, irrefutably" (that guy is just plumb crazy).

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