Definition of tongs in English:


(also a pair of tongs)

plural noun

  • 1An instrument with two movable arms that are joined at one end, used for picking up and holding things.

    ‘sugar tongs’
    • ‘Hold them in a Bunsen burner flame with a pair of tongs.’
    • ‘Grabbing a pair of tongs that rested in one of the boxes Joe served himself several of the chicken fingers.’
    • ‘When it's smoking, quickly add broccoli and toss well with a pair of tongs.’
    • ‘Once in the door you'll be straight over to the hearth, emptying ashes and raking dead coals, scooping up briquettes of turf with a pair of tongs and stacking them up.’
    • ‘Use tongs to turn the duck half-way through cooking.’
    • ‘The sisters got out of Alex's way as he grabbed an oven mitt and a pair of tongs.’
    • ‘The Talmud states that God gave man the first pair of tongs, because it is impossible to forge a pair of tongs without already having another pair to hold the metal in the fire.’
    • ‘Minutes later, the baker picks up two long iron tongs and gently tugs the bread from the tandoor wall and plops it in the waiting arms of his customer.’
    • ‘When I was a child my father would plan a barbeque for my birthday every year, and every year we would all end up in the living room, watching him cook in the rain with his tongs in one hand and a golf umbrella in the other.’
    • ‘I reached for the tongs to pick it up and it caught the bottom of my dressing gown.’
    • ‘Use a pair of tongs and dip the string into the paraffin.’
    • ‘Toss well with a pair of tongs and cook until the broccoli begins to colour.’
    • ‘I attacked the bowl of molluscs using a great technique I was once taught for eating mussels without cutlery, by using an empty shell as a finger-sized pair of tongs.’
    • ‘Uncle Gus pulled a hammer and some barbecue tongs out of his trousers pocket, and started tinkering.’
    • ‘To give the Indian flat bread a sculptured look, use a pair of kitchen tongs to carefully hold bread a few inches above the open flame of a gas burner.’
    • ‘Test by pushing on the centre of the steak with the side of the tongs, do not dig into the steak with a knife.’
    • ‘Lift them out of the liquid with a pair of tongs and put them in a serving dish and keep warm.’
    • ‘Cook for 2-3 minutes, flipping them over with tongs if necessary.’
    • ‘Customers line-up cafeteria-style, filling red plastic trays with pastries, using not their hands, but a pair of tongs taken from a rack.’
    • ‘She picked up tongs and began rearranging cookies in the glass display.’
  • 2

    short for curling tongs
    • ‘See, in order to get my fine, straight hair to even vaguely do the bouffant standing-up thing, Tony had had to go at me with hairdryer and tongs and more hairspray than you might see at the average Miss World contest.’
    • ‘Using hairdryers and ceramic straightening tongs needn't be serious, as long as you put the moisture back.’
    • ‘Lock away heated styling accessories, such as tongs, straighteners and hair dryers, during the hot summer months.’
    • ‘I went into the shop to buy hair tongs and there it was, behind the sales boy.’
    • ‘They consummate their friendships by a sharing of hair tongs and bracelets, sentiments and secrets, the gifts girls would like from boys but never get.’
    • ‘With twists, trims and a deftly handled pair of tongs, the East Yorkshire hairdresser has proved he is a cut above.’
    • ‘Although many women still request hair ‘blow-dried straight’ at salons, the trend has shifted and a substantial number are experimenting with tongs, rollers and pins.’
    • ‘She also remembers her older sister liking to curl her hair with heated tongs and asking Helen to help.’


Old English tang(e) (singular), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch tang and German Zange.