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[plahy-er] /ˈplaɪ ər/
pliers, (sometimes used with a singular verb) small pincers with long jaws, for bending wire, holding small objects, etc. (usually used with pair of).
a person or thing that plies.
Also, especially British, plyer.
1560-70; ply2 + -er1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for pliers
  • While you are waiting, unscrew and remove the air vent, using a wrench or channel-type pliers if necessary.
  • Sometimes, bent metal guides can be straightened with pliers.
  • He can fix anything with a pair of pliers, a hammer, and an interesting oration in strong language.
  • Instead the researcher used needle nosed pliers to try to pry and remove the plug base from the receptacle.
  • Use pliers to place the razor blade in a holder designed for cutting.
  • Using pliers, attach ends of chicken wire together with wire ties.
  • Special banding pliers are needed to close bands tightly.
  • The use of other types of pliers is discouraged because it is too easy to overlap the band.
  • Tightening by pliers generally is not necessary, but if pliers must be used, do not tighten beyond this point.
  • Do not use pliers that are cracked, broken or sprung.
British Dictionary definitions for pliers


plural noun
a gripping tool consisting of two hinged arms with usually serrated jaws that close on the workpiece
Word Origin
C16: from ply1


a person who plies a trade
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 pliers

"pincers," 1560s, plural agent noun from ply (n.). French cognate plieur meant "folder."



"one who folds," 1670s, agent noun from ply (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for pliers

hand-operated tool for holding and gripping small articles or for bending and cutting wire. Slip-joint pliers have grooved jaws, and the pivot hole in one member is elongated so that the member can pivot in either of two positions in order to grasp objects of different size in the most effective way. On some pliers the jaws have a portion that can cut soft wire and nails

Learn more about pliers with a free trial on
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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