noun, plural pairs, pair.

  1. two identical, similar, or corresponding things that are matched for use together: a pair of gloves; a pair of earrings.
  2. something consisting of or regarded as having two parts or pieces joined together: a pair of scissors; a pair of slacks.
  3. two individuals who are similar or in some way associated: a pair of liars; a pair of seal pups.
  4. a married, engaged, or dating couple.
  5. two mated animals.
  6. a span or team: a pair of horses.
  7. Government.
    1. 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.
    2. the arrangement thus made.
  8. Cards.
    1. two playing cards of the same denomination without regard to suit or color.
    2. pairs,two card players who are matched together against different contestants.
  9. pairs, pair skating.
  10. Also called kinematic pair. Mechanics. two parts or pieces so connected that they mutually constrain relative motion.
  11. Philately. two postage stamps joined together either vertically or horizontally.
  12. a set or combination of more than two objects forming a collective whole: a pair of beads.

verb (used with object)

  1. to arrange or designate in pairs or groups of two: She paired dancers for the waltz contest.
  2. to form into a pair, as by matching, joining, etc.; match; couple: to pair freshly washed socks.
  3. (of animals) to cause to mate.

verb (used without object)

  1. to separate into pairs or groups of two (usually followed by off ): to pair off for a procession.
  2. to form a pair or pairs.
  3. to be a member of a pair.
  4. to match with or resemble another.
  5. to unite in close association with another, as in a business partnership, friendship, marriage, etc.
  6. (of animals) to mate.
  7. Government. (in a deliberative body) to form or arrange a pair.


  1. grow a pair, Slang: Vulgar. to act in a stereotypically manly way, as by being brave: Stop the whining and grow a pair!


  1. French. noting any even number, especially in roulette.Compare impair.

noun plural pairs or functioning as singular or plural pair

  1. two identical or similar things matched for use togethera pair of socks
  2. two persons, animals, things, etc, used or grouped togethera pair of horses; a pair of scoundrels
  3. an object considered to be two identical or similar things joined togethera 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
    1. two opposed members who both agree not to vote on a specified motion or for a specific period of time
    2. the agreement so made
  7. two playing cards of the same rank or denominationa pair of threes
  8. one member of a matching pairI can’t find the pair to this glove
  9. cricket a pair of spectacles (the cricketing term)See spectacles (def. 2)
  10. rowing See pair-oar
  11. British and US dialect a group or set of more than two
  12. logic maths
    1. a set with two members
    2. an ordered set with two members


  1. (often foll by off) to arrange or fall into groups of twos
  2. to group or be grouped in matching pairsto pair socks
  3. to join or be joined in marriage; mate or couple
  4. (when tr, usually passive) parliamentary procedure to form or cause to form a pair18 members were paired for the last vote


  1. a Scot word for poor

n.mid-13c., “two of a kind coupled in use,” from Old French paire “pair, couple,” and directly from Medieval Latin paria “equals,” neuter plural of Latin par (genitive paris) “a pair, counterpart, equal,” noun use of par (adj.) “equal, equal-sized, well-matched” (see par (n.)). Originally of things. Of persons from late 14c. Meaning “a woman’s breasts” is attested from 1922. Pair bond (v.) is first attested 1940, in reference to birds mating. v.“to come together with another; be mated or married” (intransitive), also “to make a pair by matching” (transitive), c.1600, from pair (n.). These senses now often are distinguished by pair off (c.1803) for the former and pair up (1908) for the latter. Related: Paired; pairing. In addition to the idiom beginning with pair

  • pair off
  • also see:

  • show one’s (a clean pair of) heels
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