noun, plural pairs, pair.
two identical, similar, or corresponding things that are matched for use together: a pair of gloves; a pair of earrings.
something consisting of or regarded as having two parts or pieces joined together: a pair of scissors; a pair of slacks.
two individuals who are similar or in some way associated: a pair of liars; a pair of seal pups.
a married, engaged, or dating couple.
two mated animals.
a span or team: a pair of horses.
two members on opposite sides in a deliberative body who for convenience, as to permit absence, arrange together to forgo voting on a given occasion.
the arrangement thus made.
two playing cards of the same denomination without regard to suit or color.
pairs, two card players who are matched together against different contestants.
pairs, pair skating.
Also called kinematic pair. Mechanics. two parts or pieces so connected that they mutually constrain relative motion.
Philately. two postage stamps joined together either vertically or horizontally.
a set or combination of more than two objects forming a collective whole: a pair of beads.
verb (used with object)
to arrange or designate in pairs or groups of two: She paired dancers for the waltz contest.
to form into a pair, as by matching, joining, etc.; match; couple: to pair freshly washed socks.
(of animals) to cause to mate.
verb (used without object)
to separate into pairs or groups of two (usually followed by off ): to pair off for a procession.
to form a pair or pairs.
to be a member of a pair.
to match with or resemble another.
to unite in close association with another, as in a business partnership, friendship, marriage, etc.
(of animals) to mate.
Government. (in a deliberative body) to form or arrange a pair.

1250–1300; Middle English paire < Old French < Latin pāria, plural (taken as feminine singular) of pār a pair. See par1

pairwise, adverb
unpaired, adjective
well-paired, adjective

couple, pair, several (see synonym study at the current entry).

1. Pair, brace, couple, span, yoke are terms for groups of two. Pair is used of two things naturally or habitually associated in use, or necessary to each other to make a complete set: a pair of dice. It is used also of one thing composed of two similar and complementary parts: a pair of trousers. Brace is a hunter's term, used of a pair of dogs, ducks, etc., or a pair of pistols or slugs: a brace of partridges. In couple the idea of combination or interdependence has become greatly weakened; it may be used loosely for two of anything (a couple of apples), and even for more than two: I have to see a couple of people. Span is used of a matched pair of horses harnessed together side by side. Yoke applies to the two animals hitched together under a yoke for drawing and pulling: a yoke of oxen.

When used without a modifier, pairs is the only possible plural: Pairs of skaters glided over the ice. When modified by a number, pairs is the more common form, especially referring to persons: Six pairs of masked dancers led the procession. The unmarked plural pair is used mainly in reference to inanimate objects or nonhumans: He has three pair (or pairs) of loafers. Two pair (or pairs) of barn owls have nested on our property.
Pair signifying two individuals can take either a singular or plural verb, but it is usually followed by a plural verb and referred to by a plural pronoun: The guilty pair have not been seen since their escape.
In the sense “a set or combination of more than two objects forming a collective whole,” pair occurs chiefly in fixed phrases: a pair of beads; a pair of stairs. This use is now somewhat old-fashioned. See also collective noun, couple.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
pair1 (pɛə)
n , pl (functioning as singular or plural) pairs, pair
1.  two identical or similar things matched for use together: a pair of socks
2.  two persons, animals, things, etc, used or grouped together: a pair of horses; a pair of scoundrels
3.  an object considered to be two identical or similar things joined together: a pair of trousers
4.  two people joined in love or marriage
5.  a male and a female animal of the same species, esp such animals kept for breeding purposes
6.  parliamentary procedure
 a.  two opposed members who both agree not to vote on a specified motion or for a specific period of time
 b.  the agreement so made
7.  two playing cards of the same rank or denomination: a pair of threes
8.  one member of a matching pair: I can't find the pair to this glove
9.  cricket See spectacles a pair of spectacles (the cricketing term)
10.  rowing See pair-oar
11.  dialect (Brit), (US) a group or set of more than two
12.  logic, maths
 a.  a set with two members
 b.  an ordered set with two members
13.  (often foll by off) to arrange or fall into groups of twos
14.  to group or be grouped in matching pairs: to pair socks
15.  to join or be joined in marriage; mate or couple
16.  (when tr, usually passive) parliamentary procedure to form or cause to form a pair: 18 members were paired for the last vote
usage  Like other collective nouns, pair takes a singular or a plural verb according to whether it is seen as a unit or as a collection of two things: the pair are said to dislike each other; a pair of good shoes is essential

pair2 (per)
a Scot word for poor

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

late 13c., "two of a kind, coupled in use," from O.Fr. paire, from L. paria "equals," neut. pl. of par (gen. paris) "a pair, counterpart, equal," noun use of par (adj.) "equal," of unknown origin, perhaps connected with *per-, PIE root meaning "to sell, buy" (on notion of "give equal value for"), which
would connect it with L. pretium "price," Lith. perku "I buy," Gk. porne "prostitute," lit. "bought, purchased." Or from PIE *pere- "to grant, allot" (which would connect it with part and portion). The verb, "to mate" is first attested 1611 in Shakespeare ("Winter's Tale"); sense of "to make a pair by matching" is from 1613; these often are distinguished now by pair off (c.1803) for the former and pair up (1908) for the latter. Pair bond (v.) is first attested 1940, in ref. to birds mating.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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