use-icon

HOW TO USE THE DICTIONARY

Learn what the dictionary tells you about words.

Get Started Now!

Some compound words (like bus rapid transit, dog whistle, or identity theft) don’t appear on the drop-down list when you enter them into the search window. If a compound term doesn’t appear in the drop-down list, try entering the term into the search window and then hit the search button (instead of the “enter” key). Alternatively, begin searches for compound terms with a quotation mark.

use-icon

THE USAGE PANEL

The Usage Panel is a group of nearly 200 prominent scholars, creative writers, journalists, diplomats, and others in occupations requiring mastery of language. The Panelists are surveyed annually to gauge the acceptability of particular usages and grammatical constructions.

The Panelists

puzzle-icon

NEED HELP SOLVING A CROSSWORD PUZZLE?

Go to our Crossword Puzzle Solver and type in the letters that you know, and the Solver will produce a list of possible solutions.

open-icon

INTERESTED IN DICTIONARIES?

Check out the Dictionary Society of North America at http://www.dictionarysociety.com

open-icon

AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY APP

The new American Heritage Dictionary app is now available for iOS and Android.

scroll-icon

INDO-EUROPEAN & SEMITIC ROOTS APPENDICES

Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

Indo-European Roots

Semitic Roots

The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

open-icon

OPEN DICTIONARY PROJECT

Share your ideas for new words and new meanings of old words!

Start Sharing Now!

100-words-icon

See word lists from the best-selling 100 Words Series!

Find out more!

pair (pâr)
Share:
n. pl. pair or pairs
1. Two corresponding persons or items, similar in form or function and matched or associated: a pair of shoes.
2. One object composed of two joined, similar parts that are dependent upon each other: a pair of pliers.
3.
a. Two persons who are married, engaged, or dating.
b. Two persons who have something in common and are considered together: a pair of hunters.
c. Two mated animals.
d. Two animals joined together in work.
4. Games Two playing cards of the same denomination.
5. Two members of a deliberative body with opposing opinions on a given issue who agree to abstain from voting on the issue, thereby offsetting each other.
6. Chemistry An electron pair.
v. paired, pair·ing, pairs
v.tr.
1. To arrange in sets of two; couple: The golfers are paired in twosomes for this round of play.
2. To combine or join (one person or thing) with another to form a pair: a director pairing his favorite actor with an unknown; a salad that is paired with a fine dressing.
v.intr.
1. To form pairs or a pair: The people on the dance floor paired up.
2. To join with another in love or mating.

[Middle English, from Old French paire, from Latin paria, equals, pl. of pār, a pair, from pār, equal; see perə-2 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

Usage Note: The noun pair can be followed by a singular or plural verb. The singular is always used when pair denotes the set taken as a single entity: This pair of shoes is on sale. A plural verb is used when the members are considered as individuals: The pair are working more harmoniously now. After a number other than one, pair itself can be either singular or plural, but the plural is now more common: I bought six pairs (or pair) of shoes.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

This website is best viewed in Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Safari. Some characters in pronunciations and etymologies cannot be displayed properly in Internet Explorer.