In short, the plur­al of scis­sors is, well, scis­sors. It’s already in the plur­al form.

The word is descend­ed from the Latin cīsōria, which actu­al­ly did have a sin­gu­lar form: cīsōri­um. This evolved into cisoires in Old French, then sisoures in Mid­dle Eng­lish. And then about a cen­tu­ry after it became sisoures, it fur­ther evolved to become scis­sors, influ­enced by the Medieval Latin scis­sor, which meant tai­lor.

Scis­sors is what’s called as a defec­tive noun (also called plu­rale tan­tum). Pants is anoth­er exam­ple of a defec­tive noun, as are glass­es and tweez­ers.

Well, that leads us to the next ques­tion. If scis­sors is the plur­al ver­sion of the word, what is the sin­gu­lar ver­sion?

There hasn’t been one for about 600 years. Today, when we need to refer to a sin­gu­lar object (as com­pared to a pile of scis­sors), we append it with “pair of”, as in “this pair of scis­sors”.

When using scis­sors, treat it as a plur­al:

  • Those scis­sors are sharp.
  • Scis­sors are used to cut out paper dolls.
  • The scis­sors were miss­ing from the sewing kit.

About Kim Siever

I am a copy­writer and copy­ed­i­tor. I blog on writ­ing tips most­ly, but I some­times throw in my thoughts about run­ning a small busi­ness. Fol­low me on Twit­ter at @hotpepper.

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