AskDefine | Define fork

Dictionary Definition



1 cutlery used for serving and eating food
2 the act of branching out or dividing into branches [syn: branching, ramification, forking]
3 a part of a forked or branching shape; "he broke off one of the branches"; "they took the south fork" [syn: branch, leg, ramification]
4 an agricultural tool used for lifting or digging; has a handle and metal prongs
5 the angle formed by the inner sides of the legs where they join the human trunk [syn: crotch]


1 lift with a pitchfork; "pitchfork hay" [syn: pitchfork]
2 place under attack with one's own pieces, of two enemy pieces
3 divide into two or more branches so as to form a fork; "The road forks" [syn: branch, ramify, furcate, separate]
4 shape like a fork; "She forked her fingers"

User Contributed Dictionary



Old English forca , force , from Latin furca ‘pitchfork, yoke’. Later reinforced under influence of Old Northern French forque ( = Old French forche > French fourche), from the Latin.



  1. A pronged tool having a long straight handle, used for digging, lifting, throwing etc.
  2. A gallows.
  3. A utensil with spikes used to put solid food into the mouth, or to hold food down while cutting.
  4. A tuning-fork.
  5. An intersection in a road or path where one road is split into two.
  6. A point where a waterway, such as a river, splits and goes two (or more) different directions (see image).
  7. The simultaneous attack of two adversary pieces with one single attacking piece (especially a knight).
  8. A splitting-up of an existing process into itself and a child process executing parts of the same program.
  9. An event where development of some free software or open-source software is split into two or more separate projects.
  10. Crotch (British usage).

Related terms


eating utensil with spikes
tool with spikes used for digging
intersection in a road or path where one road is split into two
point where a waterway, such as a river, splits
chess: simultaneous attack of two adversary pieces with one single attacking piece
  • Danish: gaffel
  • Estonian: kahvel
  • German: Gabel
  • Icelandic: gaffall
  • Latvian: dakša
  • Lithuanian: dvišakuma
  • Portuguese: bifurcação
  • Russian: вилка
  • Swedish: gaffel
computer science: splitting of a process
  • Dutch: afsplitsing, fork
  • German: Fork
  • Italian: esecuzione di una fork
  • Japanese: フォーク (fōku)
computer science: splitting of a project
  • Dutch: splitsing
  • German: Fork
UK: crotch
  • Dutch: kruis


  1. To use a fork to move food to the mouth.
  2. In the context of "computer science": To spawn a new child process in some sense duplicating the existing process.
  3. In the context of "computer science": To split a (software) project into several projects.
  4. To kick someone in the crotch.


use a fork to move food to mouth
  • Danish: gafle
  • Finnish: haarukoida
  • German: aufgabeln, gabeln
computer science: spawn a new child process in some sense duplicating the existing process
  • Dutch: afsplitsen, forken (colloquial)
  • Finnish: forkata (slang)
  • German: gabeln, aufspalten, spalten
computer science: split a (software) project into several projects
  • Dutch: afsplitsen
  • German: aufspalten, spalten
UK: kick someone in the crotch



  • /fɔrk/


  1. A fork, splitting-up of an existing process into itself and a child process executing parts of the same program.

Extensive Definition

As a piece of cutlery or kitchenware, a fork is a tool consisting of a handle with several narrow tines (usually two, three or four) on one end. The fork as an eating utensil was a feature primarily of the West, whereas in East Asia chopsticks were more prevalent. Today, however, forks are increasingly available throughout East Asia as well.
The utensil (usually metal) is used to lift food to the mouth or to hold food in place while cooking or cutting it. Food can be lifted either by spearing it on the tines, or by collecting it on top of the tines, and holding it atop the tines horizontally. To allow for this spoon-like use, the tines are often curved slightly upward.


The word fork is derived from the Latin furca, meaning "pitchfork". Although the Greeks used the fork as an apparent serving utensil, it is also mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, in the Book of I Samuel 2:13 ("The custom of the priests with the people was that when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant came, while the flesh was boiling, with a fork of three teeth in his hand..."), it wasnt commonly used in Western Europe until the 10th century.
Before the fork was introduced, Westerners were reliant on the spoon and knife as the only eating utensils. Thus, people would largely eat food with their hands, calling for a common spoon when required. Members of the aristocracy would sometimes be accustomed to manners considered more proper and hold two knives at meals and use them both to cut and transfer food to the mouth, using the spoon for soups and broth.
The earliest forks usually had only two tines, but those with numerous tines caught on quickly. The tines on these implements were straight, meaning the fork could only be used for spearing food and not for scooping it. The fork allowed meat to be easily held in place while being cut. The fork also allowed one to spike a piece of meat and shake off any undesired excess of sauce or liquid before consuming it. First introduced to Western Europe in the 10th century by Theophanu, Byzantine wife of Emperor Otto II, the table fork had, by the 11th century, made its way to Italy. In Italy, it became quite popular by the 14th century, being commonly used for eating by merchant and upper classes by 1600. It was proper for a guest to arrive with his own fork and spoon enclosed in a box called a cadena; this usage was introduced to the French court with Catherine de' Medici's entourage. Long after the personal table fork had become commonplace in France, at the supper celebrating the marriage of the duc de Chartres to Louis XIV's natural daughter in 1692, the seating was described in the court memoirs of Saint-Simon:"King James having his Queen on his right hand and the King on his left, and each with their cadenas." In Perrault's contemporaneous fairy tale of La Belle au bois dormant (1697), each of the fairies invited for the christening is presented with a splendid "Fork Holder"
The fork's arrival in northern Europe was more difficult. Its use was first described in English by Thomas Coryat in a volume of writings on his Italian travels (1611), but for many years it was viewed as an unmanly Italian affectation. Some writers of the Roman Catholic Church expressly disapproved of its use, seeing it as "excessive delicacy": "God in his wisdom has provided man with natural forks — his fingers. Therefore it is an insult to Him to substitute artificial metallic forks for them when eating." It was not until the 18th century that the fork became commonly used in Great Britain. It was around this time that the curved fork used today was developed in Germany. The standard four-tine design became current in the early nineteenth century.
The 20th century also saw the emergence of the "spork", a utensil that is half fork and half spoon. With this new "fork-spoon", only one piece of cutlery is needed when eating (so long as no knife is required). The back of the spork is shaped like a spoon and can scoop food while the front has shortened tines like a fork, allowing spearing of food, making it convenient and easy to use. It has found popularity in fast food and military settings.

Types of forks

  • Beef fork
A fork used for picking up very thin slices of meat. This fork is shaped like a regular fork, but it is slightly bigger and the tines are curved outward. The curves are used for piercing the thin sliced beef.
  • Berry fork
  • Carving fork
A two-pronged fork used to hold meat steady while it is being carved. They are often sold with carving knives or slicers as part of a carving set.
  • Cheese fork
  • Chip fork
A two-pronged disposable fork, usually made out of sterile wood (though increasingly of plastic), specifically designed for the eating of chips, used predominantly in the United Kingdom, and to a lesser extent all over the world.
  • Cold meat fork
  • Crab fork
A short, sharp and narrow three-pronged or two-pronged fork designed to easily extract meat when consuming cooked crab.
  • Dessert fork (or Pudding fork in Great Britain)
Any of several different special types of forks designed to eat desserts, such as a pastry fork. They usually have only three tines and are smaller than standard dinner forks.
  • Dinner fork
  • Fish fork
  • Fondue fork
A narrow fork, usually having two tines, long shaft and an insulating handle, typically of wood, for dipping bread into a pot containing sauce
A utensil combining characteristics of a knife and a fork
  • Meat fork
  • Olive fork
  • Oyster fork
  • Pastry fork
  • Pickle fork
A long handled fork used for extracting pickles from a jar
A utensil combining characteristics of a spoon and a fork
  • Tea fork
  • Toasting fork
A fork, usually having two tines, very long metal shaft and sometimes an insulating handle, for toasting food over coals or an open flame


  • A history of the evolution of fork design can be found in: Henry Petroski, The Evolution of Useful things (1992); ISBN 0-679-74039-2

External links

fork in Arabic: شوكة
fork in Belarusian: Відэлец
fork in Belarusian (Tarashkevitsa): Відэлец
fork in Catalan: Forquilla
fork in Czech: Vidlička
fork in Danish: Gaffel (bestik)
fork in German: Essbesteck#Gabel
fork in Spanish: Tenedor
fork in Esperanto: Forko
fork in Basque: Sardexka
fork in French: Fourchette
fork in Korean: 포크
fork in Ido: Forketo
fork in Indonesian: Garpu
fork in Italian: Forchetta
fork in Hebrew: מזלג
fork in Lithuanian: Šakutė (stalo įrankis)
fork in Malay (macrolanguage): Garpu
fork in Dutch: Vork (bestek)
fork in Japanese: フォーク (食器)
fork in Norwegian: Gaffel
fork in Norwegian Nynorsk: Gaffel
fork in Occitan (post 1500): Forqueta
fork in Polish: Widelec
fork in Portuguese: Garfo
fork in Russian: Вилка (столовая)
fork in Sicilian: Bruccetta
fork in Simple English: Fork
fork in Finnish: Haarukka
fork in Swedish: Gaffel
fork in Vietnamese: Dĩa
fork in Turkish: Çatal
fork in Ukrainian: Виделка
fork in Venetian: Piron
fork in Dimli: Çatale
fork in Samogitian: Šakotė
fork in Chinese: 叉

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1