Definition of pair in US English:

pair

noun

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

    ‘a pair of gloves’
    • ‘The distance between the pair of marks corresponds to a length of a barcode to be read.’
    • ‘There are four main landing gear units fitted in tandem pairs.’
    • ‘This pair of articles offers a view into these two directions for anti-poverty organizing.’
    • ‘Underneath my chair was a pair of worn socks; Jack had obviously discarded them while watching Countdown earlier in the afternoon.’
    • ‘Rafter pairs are joined directly to each joist by means of mortise and tenon joints.’
    • ‘It was a very pretty dress and she was wearing light blue shoes matching a pair of small gloves on her hands.’
    • ‘She slipped on her leather jacket and a pair of high heeled harness boots and went downstairs.’
    • ‘More pairs of hands joined the first and Jace was finally pulled off of Joel, who's nose was bleeding badly.’
    • ‘The pair of articles provoked a large number of responses from readers.’
    • ‘Let's conservatively estimate that one of these workers stitches together five pairs of trainers per day.’
    • ‘My student was insistent, and a few more pairs of eyes joined him.’
    • ‘He added a pair of filters that correspond to two bands of infrared light needed to detect aflatoxin and fumonisin.’
    • ‘At the heart of the case, we discovered a sock containing three necklaces and a couple of pairs of earrings.’
    • ‘Separately, five pairs of tickets for each show will be auctioned online to the highest bidder via ‘ebay’ over a two-month period.’
    • ‘Skaters whizzed by in the rink behind them, but nobody moved to put on a pair of four-wheelers and join the throng.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘When all pairs of points are joined, the resulting network of points and lines is known as a complete graph.’
    • ‘It also corresponds stylistically to a pair of Kentian giltwood marble topped sidetables in the Long Gallery.’
    • ‘If you like, sandwich pairs of the meringue together with a little creme fraiche and decorate with dried rose petals.’
    • ‘Whilst I was out, I also bought a couple of pairs of stockings.’
    set of two, set, matching set, matched set, two of a kind
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 An article or object consisting of two joined or corresponding parts not used separately.
      ‘a pair of jeans’
      • ‘After he took his shower, Romeo picked out a clean pair of jeans and his favorite tee shirt.’
      • ‘There was a full blouse with a tunic that went over top, and a pair of plain cotton britches.’
      • ‘Any guy can wear a pair of cargo pants and a faded tee shirt.’
      • ‘She went to join Caleb who had donned a pair of jeans and a sweater and was in the kitchen making breakfast.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I quickly hurried over to the closet and pulled out my cleanest pair of jeans.’
      • ‘She went to the kitchen, and grabbed a pair of scissors out of a drawer.’
      • ‘Once outside, Rebecca donned a pair of sunglasses, effectively hiding her silvery eyes.’
      • ‘Grab a pair of sharp scissors and at least two pairs of pants you won't miss until next winter.’
      • ‘Here's everything you need to know to buy a perfect pair of exercise pants.’
      • ‘Furiously, she grabbed a large pair of scissors and started snipping away.’
      • ‘He's sporting a pair of Union Jack leggings - but only because he's been exercising, he assures me.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I'm even looking into buying a decent pair of binoculars.’
      • ‘Maybe she can run me up a couple of pairs of slacks while she's there.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The master-at-arms immediately walked over toward Jack, taking out a pair of handcuffs.’
      • ‘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.’
      set of two, set, matching set, matched set, two of a kind
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 Two playing cards of the same denomination.
      ‘I have a pair of jacks’
      • ‘Keep those cards close to the vest and no one is going to beat a pair of aces.’
      • ‘If there's a bet, you're most likely against a pair of aces, but an inside 8 will make you a straight.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘For instance, a player might be able to win a set with only two cards if those cards are a pair of aces.’
      • ‘One of my opponents had a pair of aces in her hand.’
      • ‘I think one of them had a pair of nines and one had 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.’
      • ‘In his hand he held a pair of aces; two bullets for the opposition.’
      • ‘The lowest winning hand can be a single pair, an ace and king, or even a single high card.’
      • ‘The opener had either a pair or two high cards, one possibly an ace.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If you have a pair of aces in your hand and there's an ace on the board, that's three aces.’
      • ‘Any pair of aces or below can be beaten by a single two, jack or joker.’
      • ‘said Relena, who placed a pair of aces and a pair of kings down on the table.’
      • ‘Again I raised, he countered with a reraise and I went all in - with nothing more than a pair of aces.’
    3. 1.3 Two people related in some way or considered together.
      ‘a company run by a pair of brothers’
      ‘every naughty thing the pair of them did made their faces look worse’
      ‘students work alone or in pairs’
      • ‘Policemen patrolled the streets not in pairs but alone.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We dived down in pairs and swam around the wreck.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Working alone or in pairs, students were invited to create their own radio commercials and demonstrate their considerable creative skills.’
      • ‘The sibling pair walked towards me with smiles on their faces.’
      • ‘Players are invited to enter in pairs, although individuals can enter and be paired up on the day.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She added: ‘We would advise all tourists to travel in pairs.’’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He said parent volunteers worked in pairs supervising the evening's activities, which included table tennis, karaoke, table football and pool.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They must walk in pairs or threes, sometimes ones.’
      • ‘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.’
      two, couple, duo, duology, brace, twosome
      couple, man and wife, husband and wife, partners, lovers
      View synonyms
    4. 1.4 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’
      • ‘The same questionnaire asks you to indicate the qualities you would want your dating pair to possess.’
      • ‘So singletons out there, don't give up hope, your pair is out there somewhere!’
    5. 1.5 A mated couple of animals.
      ‘nine breeding pairs of birds’
      • ‘No flocks consisting of more than three mated pairs were observed in the study area over the course of the two-year study period.’
      • ‘Williamson's Sapsuckers form monogamous pairs, a bird often pairing with its mate from a previous year.’
      • ‘Those wishing to breed the baraband parakeet in captivity should house pairs separately in long, spacious aviaries so they don't become overly fat.’
      • ‘Spring is when many songbirds are most active, busy competing for mates, establishing breeding pairs, setting up territories.’
      • ‘In animal pairs, males are often more vigilant than females.’
      • ‘In nature, house flies can readily establish colonies from the progeny of a single pair mating.’
      • ‘Usually solitary creatures, desmans form monogamous pairs and mate in springtime.’
      • ‘Bitterns are one of the UK's rarest birds, with only 30 breeding pairs left as marshland habitats dry out.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But this new knowledge produced even more questions: Do pairs migrate and winter together?’
      • ‘In spring, mated pairs are defending territories on which they breed and thus necessarily must be male and female.’
      • ‘On May 1, 1999, five birds (two breeding pairs and a solitary male) remained on the plantation.’
      • ‘After a lot of hardship we were able to sight a pair of lions mating at the place.’
      • ‘Brian, a keen ornithologist, also informed me that there's a breeding pair of herons right there in the harbour.’
      • ‘The beautiful pair were placed together at a wildlife site at Cheadle Royal Business Park in the hope they would mate and produce cygnets.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Though they were often exhibited in male-female pairs, the animals rarely reproduced.’
      • ‘Downy Woodpeckers form monogamous breeding pairs in late winter.’
      two, couple, duo, duology, brace, twosome
      View synonyms
    6. 1.6 Two horses harnessed side by side.
      • ‘Some contain the remains of a chariot and the pair of horses that once pulled it.’
      • ‘He made history in the old days when he competed in ploughing championships with a pair of horses, at which he excelled.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Like a pair of horses pulling a carriage, both institutions need each other in order to fulfil their functions properly.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Two open carriages each pulled by a pair of placid horses had begun to make their parking lot rounds when I sat down.’
      • ‘Most horse pairs drawing splendid carriages belonged to jobmasters, as very few noblemen brought their carriage horses into London.3’
      • ‘Before Brian had a chance to reply, a chariot carrying a single lady, pulled by a pair of white horses, went by.’
      • ‘A neatly dressed footman in navy blue livery stood, alert, by its side and a pair of gleaming chestnut horses were in harness.’
      • ‘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.’
      two horses, team, yoke, span
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    7. 1.7 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.
      • ‘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'.’

verb

[with object]
  • 1Join or connect to form a pair.

    ‘a cardigan paired with a matching skirt’
    • ‘‘Clarke and I were paired together to present a documentary on that year's Festival,’ says Bakewell.’
    • ‘So he paired them together once again in the foursomes in which they came up against Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood.’
    • ‘We were paired together right from the start, and we're going through the same rookie stuff together.’
    • ‘Considering what wine to pair with that steak or chicken pot pie is a particularly pleasant task.’
    • ‘I want the first row to pair with the people to their right in the second row.’
    • ‘Then I was idly wondering what kind of sauce to pair with this pasta.’
    • ‘Perhaps the most popular color to pair with yellow is red, and again, this combination can work in a variety of shades.’
    • ‘Twelve months ago, the two teams were paired together in the quarter-finals.’
    • ‘Representatives from similar sites have been paired together so they can learn more about each other.’
    • ‘Senses have been heightened since the moment the clubs were paired together in the second round draw.’
    • ‘So Shade happened to be in my English class and as fate had it we happened to be paired together for an assignment.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In the test session each participant was paired with an untrained partner.’
    • ‘This was designed to protect the integrity of the championship because of the possibility of leading contenders being paired together in the first round.’
    • ‘Arsenal and Bolton have been paired together seven times in this competition and a replay has been required on three occasions.’
    • ‘I yanked a white boat neck sweater over the gray halter to pair with the pleated gray skirt I was wearing.’
    • ‘These are the same chinos I wear on the weekends, paired with a velvet blazer I throw on over jeans.’
    • ‘Friends will not be paired together, for fear that they find a comfort zone.’
    • ‘A member of the 104th, he and Ivan Denisovich are the top two workers in the squad and are often paired together.’
    match, put together, couple, twin, partner, marry up
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1no object (of animals) mate.
      ‘they bought a rooster to pair with the hen’
      • ‘They are one of the latest North American ducks to pair, with most pairs forming late in migration.’
      • ‘Males and females did not pair with like partners but paired disassortatively according to personality.’
      • ‘Once paired, they build a nest on the ground of seaweed, eelgrass, and algae, held together by droppings.’
      • ‘Cardinals frequently remained paired over several breeding seasons, but we used only the initial pairings in the consideration of assortative mating.’
      • ‘Once paired, the breeding pair remains in the same territory until the death of one member of the pair.’
      • ‘Williamson's Sapsuckers form monogamous pairs, a bird often pairing with its mate from a previous year.’
      • ‘Once paired, the male brings nest material to the female, who builds the stick nest in a tree or shrub.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In many species pairs are stable for at least three years, and some butterflyfishes may pair for life.’
      • ‘That is, more attractive females tended to pair with more attractive males, or vice-versa.’
      • ‘Females paired to low-ranking males constructed nests near the territory edges of neighboring high-ranking males.’
      • ‘These fish stay paired for at least a year and sometimes for their entire lifetime. They spawn year-round, usually near the full moon.’
      • ‘Barnacle geese pair monogamously, and males prefer larger and heavier females.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Previous experience showed that some male pied flycatchers sing in captivity during the part of the breeding season when free-living birds are pairing.’
      • ‘Floater birds never paired with other nonterritorial birds; however, the opportunity for such behavior existed for at least five of our banded floaters.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Females pair with a male within a day of arriving and begin building their first nest within a few days.’
    2. 1.2pair off/upno object Form a couple.
      ‘Rachel has paired up with Tommy’
      • ‘The oddest of people from the remotest corners of the world were pairing up together thanks to the Internet and Cupid's timely intervention.’
      • ‘Hrithick and Kareena pair up in this light-hearted romantic lark.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The song changes and a few people begin pairing off and dancing together.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Dolly is a professional matchmaker who specialises in pairing up rich businessmen with beautiful wives.’
      • ‘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..’
      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.
      ‘an absent member on one side is 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

  • pair of hands

    • A person seen in terms of their participation in a task.

      ‘we can always do with an extra pair of hands’
      • ‘Shipston has an extra pair of hands to help steer through its market town development.’
      • ‘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!’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘As a result, though, the service was excellent, and we were never short of a pair of hands to refill our water glasses.’
      • ‘Fiona offers support, a shoulder to cry on and an extra pair of hands at home and on site.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There is plenty of work to be done in a variety of skills and there will be something for every pair of hands.’
      • ‘As Hare notes, the best practicum students not only lend an extra pair of hands but spur new ways of thinking.’

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

/per//pɛr/