General English

  • noun two things taken together
  • noun two things joined together to make a single one

General Science

  • noun a set of two matched items, similar in appearance and function


  • noun a batsman’s score of nought in both innings of a match, so called because of the supposed resemblance of two noughts to a pair of spectacles; a batsman who has scored nought in the first innings of a game is said to be on a pair when he goes in to bat for a second time
    Citation ‘In a conversation after net practice he confessed that he had made a pair of spectacles only once in his life’ (Cardus 1978)
    Citation ‘Poor Woolmer got a pair without playing a single bad stroke’ (Brearley 1982)
    See also king pair, emperor pair


  • Two of anything.
  • Two items which correspond to each other. For example, Cooper pairs, electron hole pairs, or Darlingtion pairs.
  • A transmission line consisting of two similar conductors. For example, a two-wire circuit, or a two-wire telephone line. Also called wire pair.
  • Two valence electrons which are shared by two adjacent atoms. Each pair of such electrons forms a bond between said atoms. Also called electron pair.


  • noun two people or things acting or being used together


  • noun an agreement between two MPs from opposite sides of the House of Commons not to vote on a motion, so allowing one of them to be away from the house during a vote if necessary
  • verb to arrange for two MPs from opposite sides of the House of Commons to agree that if one of them is away from the house in an emergency the other one will not vote

Origin & History of “pair”

like English par (17th c.), parity (16th c.), and peer ‘noble’ (13th c.), pair comes ultimately from Latin pār ‘equal’, a word of unknown origin. Its derivative paria ‘equal things, similar things’ passed into English via Old French paire. other English descendants of Latin pār include compare, disparage (14th c.), nonpareil (15th c.), and umpire.