- A number of things resembling one another, or belonging together; a set; as, a pair or flight of stairs. “A pair of beads.” Chaucer.
Beau. & Fl. “Four pair of stairs.” Macaulay.
Note: Now mostly or quite disused"Two crowns in my pocket, two pair of cards." [Beau. & Fl.]
- Two things of a kind, similar in form, suited to each other, and intended to be used together; as, a pair of gloves or stockings; a pair of shoes.
- Two of a sort; a span; a yoke; a couple; a brace; as, a pair of horses; a pair of oxen.
- A married couple; a man and wife."A happy pair."Dryden."The hapless pair."Milton.
- A single thing, composed of two pieces fitted to each other and used together; as, a pair of scissors; a pair of pants; a pair of tongs; a pair of bellows.
- Two members of opposite parties or opinion, as in a parliamentary body, who mutually agree not to vote on a given question (in order, for example, to allow the members to be absent during the vote without affecting the outcome of the vote), or on issues of a party nature during a specified time; as, there were two pairs on the final vote.(Parliamentary Cant)
- [Kinematics] In a mechanism, two elements, or bodies, which are so applied to each other as to mutually constrain relative motion.synonyms: Pair Flight Set.
Note: A member who is thus paired with one who would have voted oppositely is said to be paired for or paired against a measure, depending on the member's position.
Note: ☞ Pairs are named in accordance with the kind of motion they permit; thus, a journal and its bearing form a turning pair, a cylinder and its piston a sliding pair, a screw and its nut a twisting pair, etc. Any pair in which the constraining contact is along lines or at points only (as a cam and roller acting together), is designated a higher pair; any pair having constraining surfaces which fit each other (as a cylindrical pin and eye, a screw and its nut, etc.), is called a lower pair.
Usage: Originally, pair was not confined to two things, but was applied to any number of equal things ( pares), that go together. Ben Jonson speaks of a pairset) of chessmen; also, he and Lord Bacon speak of a pairpack) of cards. A “ pair of stairs” is still in popular use, as well as the later expression, “flight of stairs.”
Etymology: F. paire, LL. paria, L. paria, pl. of par pair, fr. par, adj., equal. Cf. Apparel Par equality, Peer an equal