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, ply·er.

Origin of plier

First recorded in 1560–70; ply2 + -er1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for pliers

tongs, pliers, forceps

Examples from the Web for pliers

Contemporary Examples of pliers

  • A liar has her tongue pulled out by an oversized pair of pliers.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Welcome to Buddhist Hell

    Nina Strochlic

    January 23, 2014

  • He describes the piercing needles they allegedly poked under his toenails before ripping them off with pliers.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Assad’s House of Torture

    Anna Therese Day

    October 14, 2012

  • She had to go in with pliers and kind of break them up and ended up fishing them out like Martin does in the film.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Year’s Grossest Film

    Marlow Stern

    October 3, 2011

Historical Examples of pliers

  • Also remove any roughness on surface "B" caused by pliers when cover was removed.

  • When dry remove the thread with scissors and the wires by a slight twist with pliers.


    Leon Luther Pray

  • The same result may be brought about by the use of a pair of pliers.

    On Laboratory Arts

    Richard Threlfall

  • The pliers struck the blackness and rebounded as if they had hit a rubber wall.

    Islands of Space

    John W Campbell

  • Go get from the barn the pliers, the hand-tool that pinches.

    Blind Man's Lantern

    Allen Kim Lang

British Dictionary definitions for pliers


pl n

a gripping tool consisting of two hinged arms with usually serrated jaws that close on the workpiece

Word Origin for pliers

C16: from ply 1



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

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