late 13c. (c. 1200 as a surname), from Old North French planke, variant of Old French planche "plank, slab, little wooden bridge" (12c.), from Late Latin planca "broad slab, board," probably from Latin plancus "flat, flat-footed," from a nasalized variant of PIE root *plak- (1) "to be flat." Technically, timber sawed to measure 2 to 6 inches thick, 9 inches or more wide, and 8 feet or more long. Political sense of "item of a party platform" is U.S. coinage from 1848. To walk the plank, supposedly a pirate punishment, is first attested 1789 and most early references are to slave-traders disposing of excess human cargo in crossing the ocean.
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