Definition of pincer in English:



  • 1A tool made of two pieces of metal with blunt concave jaws that are arranged like the blades of scissors, used for gripping and pulling things.

    • ‘They had brought with them a car which they proceeded to cut apart using a large pair of pincers and spreaders.’
    • ‘The heated billets (short lengths of red hot steel) shoot out of the reheating furnace and are caught by the fettlers, men equipped with large pincers, and fed manually into the mill roll.’
    • ‘I could feel them pulling as if they were trying to separate the skin at the edge of the wound with a pair of pincers.’
    • ‘Other refinements (rarely administered) were the tearing of the flesh of the condemned with red-hot pincers, the cutting off of hands, and the cutting out of tongues.’
  • 2A hinged and sharply pointed organ used by an arthropod for feeding or defence, as the mandibles of an insect, or each of the chelae of a crab, lobster, or scorpion.

    • ‘That same thing was usually pain; pain is where the pincers of angry lobsters meet the hot, flesh-searing ends of a burning communist cigars.’
    • ‘In others, they are intermediate in size and appear to function as pincers or nippers, as in other groups of mammals.’
    • ‘There are plastic sunfish-looking creatures swimming about, along with a bobbing jellyfish complete with plastic tentacles, and a crab with snapping plastic pincers.’
    • ‘The pincers certainly looked as though they belonged to a crab, as did the eyes on stalks.’
    • ‘Besides the salad there were two shelled crab pincers, without any seasoning but still tasty.’
    • ‘It also had a tail adorned by a pincer with spikes on the inside of the mandibles.’
    • ‘These are the second pair of appendages on the body, and are usually rather inconspicuous in arachnids, but in scorpions, they are large and powerful pincers which may be used to grasp and subdue prey.’
    • ‘Scorpions which hunt live prey, usually insects or small rodents (not humans), are able to grasp the victim in their pincers and whip over the tail to sting and paralyse them.’
    • ‘That is, except for a handful of more primitive serpents such as boas and pythons, whose vestigial femurs protrude from their scaly underbellies like stunted pincers.’
    • ‘‘They didn't have large pincers or aggressive weaponry that would have made them a danger to the early tetrapods,’ he said.’
    • ‘She has been trying to design Scissors Crab, a plastic crab with goofy eyes on springs and pincers that can cut paper.’
    • ‘The pedipalps are used like pincers to capture prey and are also used for defence.’
    • ‘To attract a mate, the male lobster users his pincers to snip off one of the eyes of the girl he fancies.’
    • ‘The chelicarae are medium-sized, with small pincers for grasping food, they are like miniature versions of the large claws of Pterygotus.’
    • ‘Peering from the dark cavern created by the overhanging hull was a huge lobster, waving deep blue pincers at us as we filed respectfully past.’
    • ‘Coral shrimps with long, red and white-banded pincers lurk in holes, their compound eyes reflecting the torch with an orange-gold glow.’
    • ‘On a bicycle, the rubber pincers on the hand brake squeeze the wheel rim; on a car, the brake pads squeeze against the wheels' rotors, slowing the rotation of the four rubber tires.’
    • ‘Scarborough Sea Life Centre is building a giant tank to accommodate 12 ‘baby’ Japanese Spider Crabs - whose infant pincers are as big as nutcrackers.’
    • ‘In each animal, there are seven changeable parts of the anatomy: head, torso, front legs, back legs, tail, wings, and pincers.’
    • ‘When you picture a ligand ‘biting’ the metal ion from two sides, you can picture the pincers of a crab.’


Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French, from Old French pincier ‘to pinch’.