[fawr-suh ps, -seps]

noun, plural for·ceps, for·ci·pes [fawr-suh-peez] /ˈfɔr səˌpiz/.

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 formsfor·ceps·like, adjectivefor·cip·i·al [fawr-sip-ee-uh l] /fɔrˈsɪp i əl/, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for forceps

tongs, pliers, forceps

Examples from the Web for forceps

Historical Examples of forceps

  • In a few moments the thread is cold, and if the forceps be compressed, this thread will bend.

    On Laboratory Arts

    Richard Threlfall

  • He laid a large revolver on the table and picked up the forceps.

    Oh, You Tex!

    William Macleod Raine

  • The dentist peered at it, inserted his forceps and set to work.

    Oh, You Tex!

    William Macleod Raine

  • If they can be seen they should be removed with the forceps designed for that purpose.

  • They had to leap out of the water to take the food from the forceps.

British Dictionary definitions for forceps


noun plural -ceps or -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 Formsforceps-like, adjective

Word Origin for forceps

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

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

forceps in Medicine


[fôrsəps, -sĕps]

n. pl. forceps

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