Here's from the movie The Enemy Below(1957). You can watch it on youtube.


It might be a fishing smack or... well, it might be the conning tower of a sub, sir. - Bridge. Lieutenant Ware. - Mr Ware. We're about to lose radar contact at the rate we're going. Reduce speed to speed of target and get on its tail. At this distance, we'll make visual contact at daybreak. - Shall I shake the ship out for a standby? - Not much shaking out to be done. But ready underwater search gear. If this spook is a U-boat, he might pull the plug, and we'll have to go after him.

What does "pull the plug" mean?


Pulling the plug invokes the image of a plug in a bath tub. In a standard bath tub, pulling the plug will cause the water to flow out of the tub.

However, if your bath tub is empty, and floating on the sea, pulling the plug will have the opposite effect: water will flow in, and your bath tub will sink.

Apply this image to a boat, and pulling the plug would mean make your boat sink. Normally that is not something you want to do to your own boat, but a U-boat is a submarine.

So a U-boat that pulls the plug will dive, i.e. go under water (presumably in order to flee from the protagonist's ship).

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