pin·​cer | \ ˈpin(t)-sər How to pronounce pincer (audio) , especially for sense 1 US often ˈpin-chər \

Definition of pincer

1a pincers plural : an instrument having two short handles and two grasping jaws working on a pivot and used for gripping things
b : a claw (as of a lobster) resembling a pair of pincers : chela

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from pincer

pincerlike \ ˈpin(t)-​sər-​ˌlīk How to pronounce pincer (audio) \ adjective

Examples of pincer in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The rubber crafts raced along either side of the fishing boat, squeezing it like a pincer. Los Angeles Times, "Sunken boats. Stolen gear. Fishermen are prey as China conquers a strategic sea," 12 Nov. 2020 That could position Russian forces as a pincer on either side of the 60-mile Polish-Lithuanian border, which is the only land route between the Baltic states and the rest of North Atlantic Treaty Organization territory. James Marson, WSJ, "Russia’s Embrace of Lukashenko Puts the West on Alert," 28 Sep. 2020 Drepanosaurs—a reptile group only distantly related to archosaurs—gripped branches with pincer-like hands, had a snout resembling a beak, and sported a claw at the tips of their tails. Riley Black, National Geographic, "How the world's deadliest mass extinction actually helped the rise of dinosaurs," 11 Sep. 2020 The bulky pincer-like front legs do resemble scorpion pincers, but this native moth is harmless. Ellen Nibali,, "Garden Q&A: That’s not a scorpion, it’s a moth, and why some plants don’t grow," 10 Sep. 2020 Between these fires that are rimming the Bay Area in a giant pincer move, Cal Fire was spread so thin that local departments in Yolo County had to start the fight before Cal Fire could free up its own crews. Sam Whiting,, "Firefighters battling Bay Area blazes brace for new lightning round as LNU, SCU fires grow to historic proportions," 23 Aug. 2020 These hornets also have a pincer-like mandible used for decapitating other insects. Daisy Hernandez, Popular Mechanics, "What You Should Know About Murder Hornets," 30 May 2020 Just look at the robotic hands on this figure, with their pincer grips, like something from an assembly line. Washington Post, "Gene Weingarten: Leggo my Lego," 9 July 2020 What the law's proponents conveniently don't acknowledge is that the CAA is only one arm of Modi's pincer to disenfranchise Muslims on India's soil. Shikha Dalmia, TheWeek, "How Modi supporters are trying to cloak an anti-Muslim bill in American law," 7 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pincer.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of pincer

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for pincer

Middle English pinceour, from Anglo-French *pinceour, pinchure, from Anglo-French *pincher, pincer to pinch, from Vulgar Latin *pinctiare, *punctiare, from Latin punctum puncture — more at point

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about pincer

Time Traveler for pincer

Time Traveler

The first known use of pincer was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for pincer

Cite this Entry

“Pincer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for pincer



English Language Learners Definition of pincer

: a small tool that is used for holding or gripping small objects
: a claw of a lobster or crab and some insects


pin·​cer | \ ˈpin-chər How to pronounce pincer (audio) , ˈpin-sər \

Kids Definition of pincer

1 pincers plural : a tool with two handles and two jaws for holding or gripping small objects
2 : a part (as the claw of a lobster) resembling a pair of pincers

More from Merriam-Webster on pincer

Nglish: Translation of pincer for Spanish Speakers

Comments on pincer

What made you want to look up pincer? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

February 2021 Words of the Day Quiz

  • squirrel in winter
  • Which is a synonym of perdure?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!