“pick” vs. “pluck”

Do you plant fruit trees at home? Well, not that it matters in this post. When the fruits are about to ripen, Malaysians would almost always say: “We’re able to pluck the mangoes in a few days.” That’s incorrect.

That’s right. The word that we have been using so often have been wrongly used. It should be: “We’re able to pick the mangoes in a few days.”

What’s the difference then? Both mean “to remove”; however, they’re used in different contexts. There are other meanings as well, but we’ll focus on only one in this post:

  • pluck (v.)* – to pull something with a sudden movement in order to remove it
  • pick (v.) – to remove or separate something small with your fingers

Here are some other examples:

  1. We’re going to the orchard to pick apples.
  2. Don’t pick your nose; it’s impolite.
  3. You cannot use tweezers to pluck feathers.
  4. Thomas plucks his eyebrows to make him look better.

For teeth, the correct word to use is “extract (pull)”. So, please don’t tell your dentist not to pluck your teeth.