On Mon, Oct 13, 2008 at 2:52 PM, Gary Shannon <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 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:
> Also wikipedia article:
> Perhaps they got the name because of their folded form.

You would appear to be correct. According to

pliers: 1568, formed from ply (n.). Fr. cognate plieur meant "folder."

> 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"?

The word "pliers" is treated like "scissors", and may have taken its
plural form by analogy with that word (which came to us already in
plural form from the French "cisoires").  One never speaks of "a
plier" when talking about the tool, only "the pliers" or "a pair of
pliers".  I have started to hear "a scissors",  though, and that usage
could presumably extend to pliers as well.

Mark J. Reed <[log in to unmask]>