Tongs are gripping and lifting tools, of which there are many forms adapted to their specific use. Some are merely large pincers or nippers, but the greatest number fall into three classes:
- Tongs which have long arms terminating in small flat circular ends of tongs and are pivoted close to the handle, as in the common fire-tongs, used for picking up pieces of coal and placing them on a fire.
- 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, asparagus-tongs, and the like.
- Tongs in which the pivot or joint is placed close to the gripping ends, such as blacksmith's tongs or crucible-tongs.
The tongs are the most-used cooking utensil when grilling, as they provide a way to move, rotate and turn the food with delicate precision.
A special form of tongs, known as "lazy-tongs," consists of a pair of grippers at the end of a series of levers pivoted together like scissors, the whole being closed or extended by the movement of the handles communicated to the first set of levers and thence to the grippers, the whole forming an extensible pair of tongs for gripping and lifting things at a distance.