23 January 2020

Words that exist only in the plural form

  • Names of devices: 
    • bellows, binoculars, forceps, gallows, glasses, pliers, scissors, shears, tongs.
  • Names of items of clothing: 
    • braces, briefs, jeans, knickers, pants, pyjamas, shorts, tights, trousers.
Discussion at Lexico.


  1. 'Pyjama', at least, used to be used in the singular form. In the musical 'Singin' In The Rain', there's a line in one of the songs. "For lounging in her budoir, this simple plain pajama."

    And 'binocular' is a word in the singular, although it isn't a device. It describes anything that involves two eyes to focus, as in 'binocular vision'.

    Still a fascinating list.

    1. Binocular in the sense you mean is not a noun, it's an adjective describing a noun. Adjectives do not come in singular or plural forms in English.

  2. Forceps isn't a plural. The plural would be forcipes. Same for biceps => bicipes and triceps => tricipes.


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