noun (usually used with a plural verb)

  1. any of various implements consisting of two arms hinged, pivoted, or otherwise fastened together, for seizing, holding, or lifting something (usually used with pair of).


  1. tongs.

verb (used with object)

  1. to lift, seize, gather, hold, or handle with tongs, as logs or oysters.

verb (used without object)

  1. to use, or work with, tongs.


  1. (in China) an association, society, or political party.
  2. (among Chinese living in the U.S.) a fraternal or secret society, often associated with criminal activities.

pl n

  1. a tool for grasping or lifting, consisting of a hinged, sprung, or pivoted pair of arms or levers, joined at one endAlso called: pair of tongs

verb (tr)

  1. to gather or seize with tongs
  2. to curl or style (hair) with curling tongs


  1. (formerly) a Chinese secret society or association, esp one popularly assumed to engage in criminal activities

Old English tange, tang “tongs,” from Proto-Germanic *tango (cf. Old Saxon tanga, Old Norse töng, Swedish tång, Old Frisian tange, Middle Dutch tanghe, Dutch tang, Old High German zanga, German Zange), literally “that which bites,” from PIE root *dank- “bite” (cf. Sanskrit dasati “biter;” Greek daknein “to bite,” dax “biting”). For sense evolution, cf. French mordache “tongs,” from mordre “to bite.”

“Chinese secret society,” 1883, from Cantonese t’ong “assembly hall.”

see hammer and tongs.

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