Monday, August 9, 2010

Random Thought

Here's a random question for you: what's the etymology of the word "tweezer"?

Did it begin as the verb "to tweeze" and thus the device was a "tweezer"?
Was it just a made-up silly word for a bizarre object?
Was it named after some man named Tweeze or Tweezer?
Is it a combination of several words? I wonder if perhaps "two" is involved, since it has two prongs.
How long has it been in use? I'd guess since at least the mid 20th Century certainly.

At least "squeegee" has "squeeze" in it, so the name has a certain logic. But where's the connection between hair-plucking and "tweezer"?


  1. According to the word dates back to the mid 1600s and comes from something to do with a case of surgical instruments. I had a feeling it went back to at least the early 1900s, but I had no idea its origin was that old.

  2. The etymology of the word from the 1650s, extended from tweezes, plural of tweeze "case for tweezers" (1622), aphetic of etweese, considered as plural of etwee (1610s) "a small case," from Fr. étui "small case," originally "a keeping safe," from O.Fr. estuier "to keep, shut up, imprison," of uncertain origin. Sense transferred from the case to the implement inside it.

    The devices were known to be used in pre-dynastic Egypt. They are tools for picking up and manipulating objects too small to be easily handled with hands. Hence the tool and the name derive from different sources.

  3. So if we are to believe that the instrument eventually absorbed the name of the case it came in, what did they call them before that? "Handest me yonder prongèd device, wouldst thou?"