The History and Many Uses of Tweezers


Tweezers as we know them today serve many practical functions, like plucking one’s eyebrows or removing a splinter from the skin. They can also be used to manipulate mechanical parts or any other object too small for the human hand to comfortably grab. Stamp collectors are known to use tweezers to organize their memorabilia in orderto minimize damage.



his handy invention dates back to pre-Dynastic Egypt and was probably used for beading and other delicate tasks. According to Wikipedia, drawings of Egyptian craftsmen have been discovered that depict the use of a double-bow, tweezer-like tool used to grip pots and hold them over ovens. By 3000 B.C., tweezers were used in Mesopotamia and India. Evidence shows that the Romans also used them.

Egyptian Tweezers

egyptian tweezeregyptian tweezers



roman-tweezers7743     ancient bronze tweezer from rome




It is speculated that tweezers come from similar instruments like tongs, pincers and pliers. Tweezers mimic the action of the clinching together of a human thumb and finger, performing duties that a person’s hand may not be capable of because of size restraints. Called “forceps” in the medical field, this instrument serves as a surgical tool. They are used in dental procedures, dissection, surgeries and more.





Tweezers are constructed in two different ways, the first of which involves melding two angled pieces of metal together. Another simpler and more inexpensive way to create tweezers is when one piece of metal is bent in half. Some variations have loops or hooks on the end for better grabbing.


The word tweezer takes its origin from France. “Etui” is at the root of the word. It comes from “etwee” that is taken from the Old French verb “estuier,” meaning to hold or keep safe. An etweedescribes a petite case that people would use to carry small objects (such as toothpicks) with them. Over time, the object now known as “tweezers” took on this name because the tool was commonly found in these tiny carrying cases. Eventually, the word “tweeze” was accepted as a verb in the English language. In the 1990s, the band Phish released a song called “Tweezer,” conveniently rhyming the word with “freezer” and “Uncle Ebenezer.”