- to lift, seize, gather, hold, or handle with tongs, as logs or oysters.
- to use, or work with, tongs.
Origin of tong1
before 900; 1865–70, for def 2; Middle English tong(e) (singular), tongen, tonges (plural), Old English; cognate with Dutch tang, German Zange pair of tongs or pincers; akin to Greek dáknein to bite
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
- to gather or seize with tongs
- to curl or style (hair) with curling tongs
- (formerly) a Chinese secret society or association, esp one popularly assumed to engage in criminal activities
Word Origin for tong
C20: from Chinese (Cantonese) t'ong meeting place
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
"Chinese secret society," 1883, from Cantonese t'ong "assembly hall."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
see hammer and tongs.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.