Definition of tongs in US English:


(also a pair of tongs)

plural noun

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

    ‘ice tongs’
    • ‘I reached for the tongs to pick it up and it caught the bottom of my dressing gown.’
    • ‘Lift them out of the liquid with a pair of tongs and put them in a serving dish and keep warm.’
    • ‘Grabbing a pair of tongs that rested in one of the boxes Joe served himself several of the chicken fingers.’
    • ‘The sisters got out of Alex's way as he grabbed an oven mitt and a pair of tongs.’
    • ‘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 it's smoking, quickly add broccoli and toss well with a pair of tongs.’
    • ‘Toss well with a pair of tongs and cook until the broccoli begins to colour.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Hold them in a Bunsen burner flame with a pair of tongs.’
    • ‘Test by pushing on the centre of the steak with the side of the tongs, do not dig into the steak with a knife.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Uncle Gus pulled a hammer and some barbecue tongs out of his trousers pocket, and started tinkering.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She picked up tongs and began rearranging cookies in the glass display.’
    • ‘Use tongs to turn the duck half-way through cooking.’
    • ‘Use a pair of tongs and dip the string into the paraffin.’
    • ‘Customers line-up cafeteria-style, filling red plastic trays with pastries, using not their hands, but a pair of tongs taken from a rack.’
    • ‘Cook for 2-3 minutes, flipping them over with tongs if necessary.’


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