Definition of pair in English:

pair

noun

  • 1A set of two things used together or regarded as a unit.

    ‘a pair of gloves’
    ‘three pairs of shoes’
    • ‘He added a pair of filters that correspond to two bands of infrared light needed to detect aflatoxin and fumonisin.’
    • ‘One of his earliest clubs secured his services only after supplying him with two suits, two pairs of shoes and two pairs of gloves as part of his signing on fee.’
    • ‘There are four main landing gear units fitted in tandem pairs.’
    • ‘Separately, five pairs of tickets for each show will be auctioned online to the highest bidder via ‘ebay’ over a two-month period.’
    • ‘When all pairs of points are joined, the resulting network of points and lines is known as a complete graph.’
    • ‘She slipped on her leather jacket and a pair of high heeled harness boots and went downstairs.’
    • ‘It also corresponds stylistically to a pair of Kentian giltwood marble topped sidetables in the Long Gallery.’
    • ‘Underneath my chair was a pair of worn socks; Jack had obviously discarded them while watching Countdown earlier in the afternoon.’
    • ‘Skaters whizzed by in the rink behind them, but nobody moved to put on a pair of four-wheelers and join the throng.’
    • ‘The distance between the pair of marks corresponds to a length of a barcode to be read.’
    • ‘The pair of articles provoked a large number of responses from readers.’
    • ‘This pair of articles offers a view into these two directions for anti-poverty organizing.’
    • ‘Let's conservatively estimate that one of these workers stitches together five pairs of trainers per day.’
    • ‘It was a very pretty dress and she was wearing light blue shoes matching a pair of small gloves on her hands.’
    • ‘Whilst I was out, I also bought a couple of pairs of stockings.’
    • ‘At the heart of the case, we discovered a sock containing three necklaces and a couple of pairs of earrings.’
    • ‘My student was insistent, and a few more pairs of eyes joined him.’
    • ‘More pairs of hands joined the first and Jace was finally pulled off of Joel, who's nose was bleeding badly.’
    • ‘If you like, sandwich pairs of the meringue together with a little creme fraiche and decorate with dried rose petals.’
    • ‘Rafter pairs are joined directly to each joist by means of mortise and tenon joints.’
    set of two, set, matching set, matched set, two of a kind
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Two playing cards of the same denomination.
      ‘Jacobs had two pairs’
      • ‘Well, fate seemed to deny him any runs, pairs or face cards and even any metal implement to do some damage.’
      • ‘The fact that B's pairs of trumps are in sequence has no effect here, because the led cards were not in sequence.’
      • ‘If there's a bet, you're most likely against a pair of aces, but an inside 8 will make you a straight.’
      • ‘said Relena, who placed a pair of aces and a pair of kings down on the table.’
      • ‘I think one of them had a pair of nines and one had a pair of aces.’
      • ‘The opener had either a pair or two high cards, one possibly an ace.’
      • ‘Again I raised, he countered with a reraise and I went all in - with nothing more than a pair of aces.’
      • ‘The proposed jackpot would be awarded, for a side bet, to players receiving both a royal flush and a pair of aces.’
      • ‘One of my opponents had a pair of aces in her hand.’
      • ‘If you have a pair of aces in your hand and there's an ace on the board, that's three aces.’
      • ‘The lowest winning hand can be a single pair, an ace and king, or even a single high card.’
      • ‘Any pair of aces or below can be beaten by a single two, jack or joker.’
      • ‘For instance, a player might be able to win a set with only two cards if those cards are a pair of aces.’
      • ‘Some players allow the pairs hand with wilds, sevens and aces to use a pair of jokers or a pair of twos as the wilds.’
      • ‘Keep those cards close to the vest and no one is going to beat a pair of aces.’
      • ‘In his hand he held a pair of aces; two bullets for the opposition.’
    2. 1.2 Two people related in some way or considered together.
      ‘a company run by a pair of brothers’
      ‘get out, the pair of you’
      • ‘They must walk in pairs or threes, sometimes ones.’
      • ‘A walking bus is a safe way for children to get to and from school, walking in pairs hand-in-hand along the safest possible route, while being supervised by adults.’
      • ‘She added: ‘We would advise all tourists to travel in pairs.’’
      • ‘He said parent volunteers worked in pairs supervising the evening's activities, which included table tennis, karaoke, table football and pool.’
      • ‘The sibling pair walked towards me with smiles on their faces.’
      • ‘Split into five legs the runners go in pairs and Radcliffe's seniors managed a creditable 20th place finish, with the mixed team coming 42nd.’
      • ‘She said students were not required to come in pairs for the ball, because this would hamper the aim of holding the event, to help students get to know each other better.’
      • ‘The programme has included officers patrolling in pairs and has seen violent incidents fall and a 20 per cent increase in the number of revellers.’
      • ‘We dived down in pairs and swam around the wreck.’
      • ‘The children bounced in pairs and raised more than £200, which will be put towards garden furniture, so the children can eat their lunch outside when the whether is fine.’
      • ‘You need activities that can be done in pairs, such as a three-legged race or an obstacle races that need partners.’
      • ‘Vikings fought in pairs, shoulder to shoulder - and your shoulder man would stay with you through thick and thin, Dave says, watching your back while you watched his.’
      • ‘Sometimes Eileen will work with the children on a one to one basis, other times she will host a session with the children in pairs, so that they can speak and relate to each.’
      • ‘Players are invited to enter in pairs, although individuals can enter and be paired up on the day.’
      • ‘In this race everybody goes in pairs and each pair had to get a board and paddle out to a buoy about 10 meters out and back.’
      • ‘The children are aged between nine and 11, which is younger than most who take part in exchanges, and are staying in pairs with families in the village.’
      • ‘Policemen patrolled the streets not in pairs but alone.’
      • ‘A substantial element of the system is the set of physical exercises performed in pairs and again based on the idea of the power of co-operation.’
      • ‘Working alone or in pairs, students were invited to create their own radio commercials and demonstrate their considerable creative skills.’
      • ‘Working in pairs, the children were challenged to use their imagination, creativity and ingenuity to design and make a model using a specially created K'Nex kit.’
      two, couple, duo, duology, brace, twosome
      couple, man and wife, husband and wife, partners, lovers
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3 The second member of a pair in relation to the first.
      ‘each course member tries to persuade his pair of the merits of his model’
      • ‘So singletons out there, don't give up hope, your pair is out there somewhere!’
      • ‘The same questionnaire asks you to indicate the qualities you would want your dating pair to possess.’
    4. 1.4 A mated couple of animals.
      ‘76 pairs of red kites’
      • ‘After a lot of hardship we were able to sight a pair of lions mating at the place.’
      • ‘On May 1, 1999, five birds (two breeding pairs and a solitary male) remained on the plantation.’
      • ‘Downy Woodpeckers form monogamous breeding pairs in late winter.’
      • ‘In nature, house flies can readily establish colonies from the progeny of a single pair mating.’
      • ‘In animal pairs, males are often more vigilant than females.’
      • ‘The sheer number and proximity of males and females is a boost, although some species do break away temporarily from the school in mating pairs when the moment to spawn arrives.’
      • ‘The sexual activity of moths was continuously observed during the first dusk period and mated pairs were noted.’
      • ‘Though they were often exhibited in male-female pairs, the animals rarely reproduced.’
      • ‘Bitterns are one of the UK's rarest birds, with only 30 breeding pairs left as marshland habitats dry out.’
      • ‘Brian, a keen ornithologist, also informed me that there's a breeding pair of herons right there in the harbour.’
      • ‘Williamson's Sapsuckers form monogamous pairs, a bird often pairing with its mate from a previous year.’
      • ‘Spring is when many songbirds are most active, busy competing for mates, establishing breeding pairs, setting up territories.’
      • ‘In spring, mated pairs are defending territories on which they breed and thus necessarily must be male and female.’
      • ‘The beautiful pair were placed together at a wildlife site at Cheadle Royal Business Park in the hope they would mate and produce cygnets.’
      • ‘But this new knowledge produced even more questions: Do pairs migrate and winter together?’
      • ‘Those wishing to breed the baraband parakeet in captivity should house pairs separately in long, spacious aviaries so they don't become overly fat.’
      • ‘It was to my great good fortune that within a few weeks, one of our new pairs had mated and produced eggs, one of which was fertile.’
      • ‘Usually solitary creatures, desmans form monogamous pairs and mate in springtime.’
      • ‘The osprey pair, who mate for life, will share the task of warming the egg in their Scots Pine tree nest over the next 40 days until it hatches.’
      • ‘No flocks consisting of more than three mated pairs were observed in the study area over the course of the two-year study period.’
      two, couple, duo, duology, brace, twosome
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    5. 1.5 Two horses harnessed side by side.
      ‘she enjoys driving her pair’
      • ‘Some contain the remains of a chariot and the pair of horses that once pulled it.’
      • ‘Before Brian had a chance to reply, a chariot carrying a single lady, pulled by a pair of white horses, went by.’
      • ‘Most horse pairs drawing splendid carriages belonged to jobmasters, as very few noblemen brought their carriage horses into London.3’
      • ‘The driver tied the long reins that controlled a pair of black horses to a post by his seat and then proceeded to open the door of the carriage.’
      • ‘A neatly dressed footman in navy blue livery stood, alert, by its side and a pair of gleaming chestnut horses were in harness.’
      • ‘Like a pair of horses pulling a carriage, both institutions need each other in order to fulfil their functions properly.’
      • ‘Two open carriages each pulled by a pair of placid horses had begun to make their parking lot rounds when I sat down.’
      • ‘A pair of horses was pulling a plough off in a field to the right of the village and a tall woman was guiding the plough.’
      • ‘In the distance, a pair of horses cantered cheerfully by, one of them supporting a red flag in his teeth and the other neighing joyfully at him.’
      • ‘One of the methods employed to overcome the problem for northbound traffic was the addition of a pair of extra horses to a coach's team to aid in pulling it to the top of the hill.’
      • ‘Back in the sheltered village, we supped a nice cup of tea at the Ramblers Rest and a smart cart rolled by drawn by a pair of grand black horses.’
      • ‘He made history in the old days when he competed in ploughing championships with a pair of horses, at which he excelled.’
      two horses, team, yoke, span
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    6. 1.6 Either or both of two members of a legislative assembly on opposite sides who absent themselves from voting by mutual arrangement, leaving the relative position of the parties unaffected.
      ‘one minister was flatly refused a pair by his Tory opposite number’
      • ‘The arrangement of pairs is left in the hands of the 'Party Whips'.’
      • ‘Voting by proxy is not allowed in Parliament but a similar effect is achieved through the practice known as 'pairs'.’
  • 2An article consisting of two joined or corresponding parts not used separately.

    ‘a pair of jeans’
    ‘a pair of scissors’
    • ‘He's sporting a pair of Union Jack leggings - but only because he's been exercising, he assures me.’
    • ‘There was a full blouse with a tunic that went over top, and a pair of plain cotton britches.’
    • ‘Take the necessary only… some underwear, a couple of T shirts, a pair of sneakers, a pair of jeans and maybe two pairs of shorts.’
    • ‘The master-at-arms immediately walked over toward Jack, taking out a pair of handcuffs.’
    • ‘I quickly hurried over to the closet and pulled out my cleanest pair of jeans.’
    • ‘She went to join Caleb who had donned a pair of jeans and a sweater and was in the kitchen making breakfast.’
    • ‘Here's everything you need to know to buy a perfect pair of exercise pants.’
    • ‘She went to the kitchen, and grabbed a pair of scissors out of a drawer.’
    • ‘While being in this room she also had a pair of ear phones on playing music all the time to help her relax and help her be stress free.’
    • ‘Furiously, she grabbed a large pair of scissors and started snipping away.’
    • ‘Grab a pair of sharp scissors and at least two pairs of pants you won't miss until next winter.’
    • ‘I'm even looking into buying a decent pair of binoculars.’
    • ‘Any guy can wear a pair of cargo pants and a faded tee shirt.’
    • ‘Once outside, Rebecca donned a pair of sunglasses, effectively hiding her silvery eyes.’
    • ‘Pair a basic pair of jeans with a shirt you really like, or a cool belt or shoes.’
    • ‘Sally suggests putting together a pair of straight trousers with a biggish top and a belt slung around loosely.’
    • ‘After he took his shower, Romeo picked out a clean pair of jeans and his favorite tee shirt.’
    • ‘She just shuffles along in layers of coats and jumpers, wearing two pairs of cheap sunglasses.’
    • ‘I managed to find a clean pair of jeans and a black t-shirt.’
    • ‘Maybe she can run me up a couple of pairs of slacks while she's there.’
    set of two, set, matching set, matched set, two of a kind
    View synonyms

verb

[with object]
  • 1Put together or join to form a pair.

    ‘a cardigan paired with a matching skirt’
    • ‘These are the same chinos I wear on the weekends, paired with a velvet blazer I throw on over jeans.’
    • ‘Representatives from similar sites have been paired together so they can learn more about each other.’
    • ‘He also reads magazines to see what chefs are doing to get ideas of drinks to pair with food.’
    • ‘And by now it's a foregone conclusion that these two stars will generate a certain special something anytime they're paired together.’
    • ‘Considering what wine to pair with that steak or chicken pot pie is a particularly pleasant task.’
    • ‘Arsenal and Bolton have been paired together seven times in this competition and a replay has been required on three occasions.’
    • ‘A member of the 104th, he and Ivan Denisovich are the top two workers in the squad and are often paired together.’
    • ‘I want the first row to pair with the people to their right in the second row.’
    • ‘Friends will not be paired together, for fear that they find a comfort zone.’
    • ‘In the test session each participant was paired with an untrained partner.’
    • ‘We were paired together right from the start, and we're going through the same rookie stuff together.’
    • ‘Twelve months ago, the two teams were paired together in the quarter-finals.’
    • ‘‘Clarke and I were paired together to present a documentary on that year's Festival,’ says Bakewell.’
    • ‘I yanked a white boat neck sweater over the gray halter to pair with the pleated gray skirt I was wearing.’
    • ‘So Shade happened to be in my English class and as fate had it we happened to be paired together for an assignment.’
    • ‘So he paired them together once again in the foursomes in which they came up against Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood.’
    • ‘Perhaps the most popular color to pair with yellow is red, and again, this combination can work in a variety of shades.’
    • ‘Then I was idly wondering what kind of sauce to pair with this pasta.’
    • ‘Senses have been heightened since the moment the clubs were paired together in the second round draw.’
    • ‘This was designed to protect the integrity of the championship because of the possibility of leading contenders being paired together in the first round.’
    match, put together, couple, twin, partner, marry up
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1no object (of animals) form a pair for breeding purposes.
      ‘killer whales pair for life’
      • ‘Males and females did not pair with like partners but paired disassortatively according to personality.’
      • ‘Females pair with a male within a day of arriving and begin building their first nest within a few days.’
      • ‘Barnacle geese pair monogamously, and males prefer larger and heavier females.’
      • ‘Cardinals frequently remained paired over several breeding seasons, but we used only the initial pairings in the consideration of assortative mating.’
      • ‘That is, more attractive females tended to pair with more attractive males, or vice-versa.’
      • ‘These fish stay paired for at least a year and sometimes for their entire lifetime. They spawn year-round, usually near the full moon.’
      • ‘Once paired, they build a nest on the ground of seaweed, eelgrass, and algae, held together by droppings.’
      • ‘In many species pairs are stable for at least three years, and some butterflyfishes may pair for life.’
      • ‘Previous experience showed that some male pied flycatchers sing in captivity during the part of the breeding season when free-living birds are pairing.’
      • ‘We assume for simplicity that the female will pair with one of the two bidding males.’
      • ‘Females had the opportunity to pair with solitary males but did not do so.’
      • ‘Females paired to low-ranking males constructed nests near the territory edges of neighboring high-ranking males.’
      • ‘Once paired, the male brings nest material to the female, who builds the stick nest in a tree or shrub.’
      • ‘The cheetahs are kept in enclosures and are used for pairing, also with animals bred in captivity, as a further way of promoting their numbers and their gene pool.’
      • ‘White plumage may be critical for attracting a mate, but even after pairing with a female during the breeding season, a male that keeps a clean profile may have an advantage.’
      • ‘Williamson's Sapsuckers form monogamous pairs, a bird often pairing with its mate from a previous year.’
      • ‘Floater birds never paired with other nonterritorial birds; however, the opportunity for such behavior existed for at least five of our banded floaters.’
      • ‘Once paired, the breeding pair remains in the same territory until the death of one member of the pair.’
      • ‘In most cases, if a bird paired with a different mate in a subsequent breeding season, the mate from the previous season was not seen again and was presumed dead.’
      • ‘They are one of the latest North American ducks to pair, with most pairs forming late in migration.’
    2. 1.2pair off/upno object Form a romantic or sexual relationship.
      ‘my friends had paired off and I was the only one playing the field’
      • ‘The song changes and a few people begin pairing off and dancing together.’
      • ‘Dolly is a professional matchmaker who specialises in pairing up rich businessmen with beautiful wives.’
      • ‘Hrithick and Kareena pair up in this light-hearted romantic lark.’
      • ‘The oddest of people from the remotest corners of the world were pairing up together thanks to the Internet and Cupid's timely intervention.’
      • ‘And, during dead spots during the caper, they find time to tell their lives' stories, and each girl pairs off romantically with the guy of her choice.’
      • ‘It's rumoured that he and Daphne have a hidden romance on the show, as they always seem to pair off together and disappear for long periods of time, but there is no clear evidence to support this.’
      • ‘In one deft sequence, Carrington sits outside Ham Spray House, draped in a blanket, watching the loves of her life pair off into new relationships.’
      • ‘Match-makers Jane Gledhill and Chris Cunningham had hoped to be swamped with single people wanting to be paired off - but their romantic speed-dating notion has had so few admirers that they have had to call the whole thing off.’
      • ‘All twelve celebrities taking part will jet off to the paradise island this week where they will stay on the beach in traditional bamboo huts before being paired off together for a string of dates..’
      • ‘It wasn't until he became a teenager and everyone in his circle of friends began to pair off and have relationships did he come to understand what it was he felt for his long lost friend.’
      get together, join up, link up, team up, unite, form a partnership, form a couple, make a twosome
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3 Give (a member of a legislative assembly) another member as a pair, to allow both to absent themselves from a vote without affecting the result.
      ‘arrangements are usually made between the party whips for an absent member on one side to be paired with an absentee on the other’
      • ‘When they agree to pair themselves they indicate their respective positions on the issue and the fact that their absences did not effect the outcome.’
      • ‘Notwithstanding the newly formalized way of arranging pairs, House of Commons Speaker John Fraser noted in a 1992 ruling that agreements to pair still are private arrangements between Members and not matters in which House or the Speaker can intervene.’

Phrases

  • in pairs

    • In groups of two.

      ‘ravens are usually seen in pairs’
      • ‘The large macaws usually fly around in pairs, sometimes accompanied by their offspring.’
      • ‘I buy a coffee and watch the people arrive in pairs or groups as I drink it.’
      • ‘During the first 8 to 10 days of instruction, students work in pairs in the classroom to solve the main problem on the CD.’
      • ‘Nine members of the dance group worked intensely, mostly alone or in pairs.’
      • ‘This exchange of ideas takes no more than a minute and is especially profitable when children spend 20 seconds or so discussing their ideas in pairs before responding in a whole class context.’
      • ‘Black Oystercatchers are usually seen in pairs or in small to medium-sized flocks.’
      • ‘Their reluctance was so great that they had to go out in pairs, with one of them acting as moral support for the other.’
  • pair of hands

    • Used in reference to a person seen in terms of their participation in a task.

      ‘we can always do with an extra pair of hands’
      • ‘As a result, though, the service was excellent, and we were never short of a pair of hands to refill our water glasses.’
      • ‘As Hare notes, the best practicum students not only lend an extra pair of hands but spur new ways of thinking.’
      • ‘There is plenty of work to be done in a variety of skills and there will be something for every pair of hands.’
      • ‘Shipston has an extra pair of hands to help steer through its market town development.’
      • ‘When he came to stay with us it was like having an extra pair of hands.’
      • ‘They will provide an extra pair of hands to allow the pre-school staff and volunteers to spend more time with all the children in the group.’
      • ‘You'd get the place finished quicker with an extra pair of hands up there.’
      • ‘Home-Start York needs volunteers to visit young families at home, to offer a listening ear and an extra pair of hands.’
      • ‘Fiona offers support, a shoulder to cry on and an extra pair of hands at home and on site.’
      • ‘So even if you are just someone who needs an extra pair of hands around the house for a day here is your chance to get all those jobs done that never seem to get done!’

Origin

Middle English: from Old French paire, from Latin paria ‘equal things’, neuter plural of par ‘equal’. Formerly phrases such as a pair of gloves were expressed without of, as in a pair gloves (compare with German ein Paar Handschuhe).

Pronunciation

pair

/pɛː/