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[fawr-suh ps, -seps] /ˈfɔr səps, -sɛps/
noun, plural forceps, forcipes
[fawr-suh-peez] /ˈfɔr səˌpiz/ (Show IPA)
an instrument, as pincers or tongs, for seizing and holding objects, as in surgical operations.
Anatomy, Zoology. a part or feature resembling a forceps, especially a pair of appendages at the posterior of certain insects.
Origin of forceps
1625-35; < Latin: pair of tongs, pincers, said to be a contraction of *formiceps, equivalent to form(us) warm + -i- -i- + -ceps -taker, derivative of capere to take (cf. prince), i.e., that which takes hot things; compare, however, forpex, forfex tongs, shears, from which forceps may have been formed by folk etymology
Related forms
forcepslike, adjective
[fawr-sip-ee-uh l] /fɔrˈsɪp i əl/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for forceps
  • There is something scary about both sets of images, of the philosophers and the forceps.
  • Then, when my mom was coming out, they decided she should come out even quicker so they pulled her out with forceps.
  • With a pair of fine-tipped forceps, he grabbed one of the insects at the base of its thorax and lifted it off the block.
  • But the surgeon is not towering over the patient, calling for forceps and scalpels.
  • Beauty's current stump is useless for hunting food, so a biologist has been hand-feeding the bird with forceps.
  • Most of us used our tools-scalpels, clamps, forceps.
  • We would be translating for them and handing them elevators and forceps and generally making ourselves useful.
  • With a tiny forceps, he poked through the cartilage to sample surrounding lung tissue.
  • All you do is split into teams, take turns prodding the plastic forceps into the alien's tummy and pulling out parts.
  • Biopsy forceps may be used instead to collect a tissue sample.
British Dictionary definitions for forceps


noun (pl) -ceps, -cipes (-sɪˌpiːz)
  1. a surgical instrument in the form of a pair of pincers, used esp in the delivery of babies
  2. (as modifier): a forceps baby
any pincer-like instrument
any part or structure of an organism shaped like a forceps
Derived Forms
forceps-like, adjective
Word Origin
C17: from Latin, from formus hot + capere to seize
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for forceps

1560s, from Latin forceps "pair of tongs, pincers," compound of formus "hot" (see warm (adj.)) + root of capere "to hold, take" (see capable). Originally a smith's implement. The classical plural is forcipes.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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forceps in Medicine

forceps for·ceps (fôr'səps, -sěps)
n. pl. forceps

  1. An instrument resembling a pair of pincers, used for grasping, manipulating, or extracting, especially in surgery.

  2. Either of two bands of white fibers composing the radiation of the corpus callosum to the cerebrum.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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