verb (used with object)
to lift, seize, gather, hold, or handle with tongs, as logs or oysters.
verb (used without object)
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. 2019
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.