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Re: (YA?)English Orthography Question

From:Mark J. Reed <markjreed@...>
Date:Monday, October 13, 2008, 19:17
On Mon, Oct 13, 2008 at 2:52 PM, Gary Shannon <fiziwig@...> wrote:
> The original "pliers" were more like tongs; a single piece of metal folded to > form a hinge-like "V" arrangement, and used by black smiths to manipulate > piece of hot metal, among other uses. > > See photo: > Also wikipedia article: > > Perhaps they got the name because of their folded form.
You would appear to be correct. According to pliers: 1568, formed from ply (n.). Fr. cognate plieur meant "folder."
> Is "pliers" actually a plural, or does it end in "s" for some other reason? Did > we only add "pair of" later, because "pliers" > was mistakenly thought to be plural of "plier"?
The word "pliers" is treated like "scissors", and may have taken its plural form by analogy with that word (which came to us already in plural form from the French "cisoires"). One never speaks of "a plier" when talking about the tool, only "the pliers" or "a pair of pliers". I have started to hear "a scissors", though, and that usage could presumably extend to pliers as well. -- Mark J. Reed <markjreed@...>