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--- On Mon, 10/13/08, caeruleancentaur <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> From: caeruleancentaur <[log in to unmask]>

> The verb "ply" (join together, fold) < Latin
> 'plicare', to fold.  
... 
> Interestingly the AHD gives no 
> etymology for the very common "pliers."  

The original "pliers" were more like tongs; a single piece of metal folded to form a hinge-like "V" arrangement, and used by black smiths to manipulate piece of hot metal, among other uses.

See photo: http://www.kk.org/streetuse/archives/2007/05/homemade_charcoal_tongs.php
Also wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tongs

Perhaps they got the name because of their folded form. Is "pliers" actually a plural, or does it end in "s" for some other reason? Did we only add "pair of" later, because "pliers" was mistakenly thought to be plural of "plier"?

This is all just wild guessing, of course.

--gary