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Are these valid in American English as opposed to "unplug".

Plug out the charger from the wall.

I plugged out my TV.

I found my radio plugged out.

I started hanging out with some guys of Jamaican descent who were born in Canada and I noticed that they talked about "plugging out" their electronic devices rather than "unplugging" them. Recently I've begun to hear the same expression from non-Jamaicans.

Anyone have any idea how widespread this is?

  • 90
    FWIW, I'm an American and I have never heard anyone use this expression. I say "unplug". – Mixolydian Apr 8 at 19:13
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    Canadian here; I've never heard anyone use the phrase "plugging out" before. It's always "unplug". – Kalmino Apr 8 at 20:43
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    As an American I have only ever seen it in a UI translated from Chinese by people who learned English outside the US. – Michael Hampton Apr 9 at 1:22
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    "Plug in" is extremely common; but I've never heard "plug out" used until right now. – JMac Apr 9 at 11:47
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    Although I have heard the term 'pull the plug out' to remove the plug from a socket and hence 'pull the plug' to stop something electronic, I've never heard of 'plugging out' – Smock Apr 9 at 13:05
56

Wiktionary defines the expression plug out as Irish:

(Ireland, transitive, colloquial) To unplug; to remove (an electrical device) from its socket.

From The Daily Edge : 13 words you'll never hear outside of Ireland...

Another uniquely Irish phrase is 'to plug out' as in ' plug out the telly'.

  • 15
    The GloWbE corpus seems to confirm this, but also some other Englishes. 1 relevant example from US, 5 from UK, 10 from Ireland, 4 from India, 2 Bangla Desh, 3 singapore, 3 Jamaica, 1 each from Hong Kong and kenya. None from anywhere else. I have learnt something: I would have said that no native English speaker used this expression. – Colin Fine Apr 8 at 19:22
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    @ColinFine Does your corpus search make sure it's looking at that as a verb? After all, you may get "take the plug out of the bath", which is something else entirely. – SamBC Apr 8 at 20:10
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    (I never heard it in Britain, but the UK does include a chunk of Ireland, which may affect the results) – SamBC Apr 8 at 20:10
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    @SamBC: I told it to restrict it to a verb, but quite a few entries were mis-tagged. There were few enough that I could inspect them individually and exclude the ones with a different structure. – Colin Fine Apr 8 at 20:41
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    I have very rarely heard it in Britain, but have always known Irish people so it could have been from them (dircetly or indirectly) – Chris H Apr 9 at 9:01
34

In America, we use the term "unplug", not "plug out"

25

Here in South Africa, we say "plug out" too. I am not sure if this is based on the historical European influence, or that in Afrikaans "uit prop" translates to "plug out" really... In Afrikaans, the words make sense - but I can see how it gets a little non-descriptive in English. It sounds like "rock out" (even though not really great form in my opinion either), so "plug out" tends to convey a slangy feel to me. Nevertheless, we do use it commonly here.

  • "plug in" is widely used - so "plug out" is a perfectly plausible inverse. – Martin Bonner Apr 11 at 12:30
  • @MartinBonner The inverse of "plug in" is really "pull out." I think "plug out" might be an oxymoron since plugging implies inserting. – ArrowCase Apr 11 at 16:46
19

I work in north eastern Ohio, in a community of Amish people, where the first language is Dutch (not European Dutch - this would be Pennsylvania Dutch, or a regional dialect thereof).

Here, I never hear native dutch speakers say "unplug." It's always "plug out."

There are relatively few idioms that are unique to this area, but this is one of those that stood out starkly to me, as I'd never heard this term prior to working in this area.

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    Pennsylvania Dutch is not Dutch at all: it's a dialect of German. "Dutch" in this case arose as a corruption of "Deutsch". – Martha Apr 9 at 17:59
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    @Martha -- European Dutch is also a (different) dialect of German, but with an army and a navy. – Jasper Apr 9 at 18:49
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    Just out of curiosity: how often do Amish need to "unplug" stuff? To me it feels like this wouldn't be used much anyway, no? – Patrice Apr 10 at 14:20
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    @Patrice - drain pipes, maybe? – davidbak Apr 10 at 16:51
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    @Patrice, it’s actually much more common than you might think. Many Amish businesses, and many Amish homes, have electrical systems. Many homes are running solar or generator-based systems that might not be supplying a full 120v, but usually it’s 24v or something similar. – mike.thorn Apr 11 at 1:47
12

I am from a community in New York speaking English and Yiddish and I can definitely hear myself say "plug out".

I believe this happens because we tend to express things in English the same way we would in express it in Yiddish. There are many more examples where we do it.

Yiddish is also somewhat derived from German.

  • "somewhat" is a bit of an understatement. It's not much further from High German than Plattdeutsch or Schweizerdeutsch. I speak German at A2 level at least, and went to a lecture where they played Undzer Shtetl brent - I had to ask if it was German or Yiddish. – Martin Bonner Apr 11 at 12:39
  • @MartinBonner agree, it's just that we mix in a lot of English and hebrew in everyday conversations. But you are right, I could read German and understand a lot of what I read. – isaace Apr 11 at 13:26
9

I came across this phrasing in a Supermicro server's IPMI Virtual Media interface. It looks like this:

enter image description here

The plug in/out buttons could easily say "connect/disconnect" and have exactly the same meaning. Company is based in California, USA, but I do not know where their IPMI interface coders are located.

  • Nice! My next question is: what is supposed to be conveyed by the second line in the history that says "Stop!!"? – davidbak Apr 10 at 16:53
  • @davidbak its a status output area - I connected an ISO fie to a virtual CD drive, disconnected it, read "plug out" and remembered this question, then reconnected the file so the button was not greyed-out before taking screenshot. Is!! very!! enthusiastic!! OK!! – Criggie Apr 10 at 19:46
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    For a UI like this, "Plug Out" provides symmetry with 'Plug In", but it is not necessarily indicative of how people actually speak. – Glen Yates Apr 11 at 15:12

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