Tongs are a type of tool used to grip and lift objects instead of holding them directly with hands. There are many forms of tongs adapted to their specific use. Some are merely large pincers or nippers, but most fall into these few classes:
- Tongs that have long arms terminating in small flat circular ends of tongs and are pivoted at a joint close to the handle used to handle delicate objects. Common fire-tongs, used for picking up pieces of coal and placing them on a fire without burning fingers or getting them dirty are of this type. Tongs for grilling, tongs for serving salad or spaghetti are kitchen utensil of the same type. They provide a way to move, rotate and turn the food with delicate precision, or fetch a full serving in one grab.
- Tongs consisting of a single band of metal bent round one or two bands joined at the head by a spring, as in sugar-tongs (a pair of usually silver tongs with claw-shaped or spoon-shaped ends for serving lump sugar), asparagus-tongs and the like.
- Tongs in which the pivot or joint is placed close to the gripping ends are used to handle hard and heavy objects. Driller's round tongs, blacksmith's tongs or crucible tongs are of this type.
Design variations include resting points so that the working end of the tongs does not come into contact with a bench surface.
A myth contained in the classical Jewish text Pirkei Avot states that the first pair of tongs were created by God right before God rested on the Seventh Day. The reasoning is that a blacksmith must use a pair of tongs in order to fashion a new pair of tongs. Accordingly, God must have provided humankind with the first pair of tongs.
- Scherman, Nosson. Ethics of the Fathers Annotations. The Complete ArtScroll Siddur. Brooklyn, NY: Mesorah Publications, 1984. 544-586.