Pincer vs. pincher

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Lobsters’ and other arthropods’ grasping appendages are pincers. And the word has two other definitions: (1) Pincers are a type of grasping tool with a pair of jaws, and (2) a pincer is a military maneuver in which a force is attacked from three sides.

A pincher is someone or something that pinches. The word is common in compound constructions such as penny-pincher, nose-pincher, and bottom-pincher.

Many dictionaries list pincher as a variant of pincer, but the words are usually kept separate in edited writing.



A hermit crab bobbles about, wearing a shell that looks like a Brancusi head, clacking its pincers, happy in its new home. [Guardian]

Students scrambled for a chance to use miniscule pincers to peel a grape or perform simulated stitching. [Issaquah Press]

Syria, caught in a strategic pincer between Israel and American Iraq, would naturally bow down. [The Nation]


Ford, who made his name as a penny-pincher criticizing colleague’s office expenses, was embarrassed. [Toronto Star]

If someone is rising when you are falling, it always makes the descent seem a bigger nose-pincher. [Independent]

Women should prepare to have doors opened for them by the gallant, attentive, sweet-talking Dave, yet he is not a bottom-pincher. [Forbes]