The Full Wiki

fork: Wikis

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


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, has been a feature primarily of the West, whereas in East Asia chopsticks have been more prevalent. Today, forks are increasingly available throughout East Asia. 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 holding it on top of the tines, which are often curved slightly. For this latter function, in the American style of fork etiquette, the fork is held with tines curving up; however, in continental style, the fork is held with the tines curving down.



File:Forks Susa Louvre
Bronze forks made in Iran during the 8th or 9th century.

The word fork is derived from the Latin furca, meaning "pitchfork". The ancient Greeks used[1] the fork as a serving utensil, and 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 fresh flesh was boiling, with a fork of three teeth in his hand..."), however, it was not commonly used in Western Europe until the 10th century.

Bone forks had been found in the burial site of Qijia culture, as well as later Chinese dynasties' tombs.[2][clarification needed].

The Romans used forks and there are many examples of Roman forks on display in museums around Europe.[3] Examples of these forks date from the second century A.D.[4]

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.[citation needed]

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. Wider use of the table fork in Western Europe was facilitated by Theophanu, Byzantine wife of Emperor Otto II in the 10th century.

Fork means Viljuska in the Serbian language, an object usually utilized for consuming food, mostly meat and other foods. It was first used by Serbian nobles, while others ate with their bare hands, even prominent kings like well known German king Friedrich Barbarossa.

By the 11th century, the table fork had 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 adoption in northern Europe was slower. 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."[5][6] It was not until the 18th century that the fork became commonly used in Great Britain, although some sources say forks were common in France, England and Sweden already by the early 1600s.[7][8] The curved fork that is used in most parts of the world today, was developed in Germany in the mid 18th century. The standard four-tine design became current in the early nineteenth century.

, from U.S. Patent D388,664]] 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
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

Novelty forks

Spaghetti fork
  • Spaghetti fork
A fork with a metal shaft loosely fitted inside a hollow plastic handle. The shaft protrudes through the top of the handle, ending in a bend that allows the metal part of the fork to be easily rotated with one hand while the other hand is holding the plastic handle. This supposedly allows spaghetti to be easily wound onto the tines.

See also


  1. ^ "Forks". 
  2. ^ Needham (1986), volume 6 part 5 105–108
  3. ^ "Fitzwilliam Museum - A combination Roman eating implement". 
  4. ^ Sherlock, D. (1988) A combination Roman eating implement (1988). Antiquaries Journal [comments: 310-311, pl. xlix]
  5. ^ "A History of the Table Fork". 
  6. ^ "The Irrational Exhuberance of American Dining Etiquette". 
  7. ^
  8. ^
  • 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


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Pronged eating utensil - a fork




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





fork (plural forks)

  1. A pronged tool having a long straight handle, used for digging, lifting, throwing etc.
  2. (obsolete) 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. (chess) The simultaneous attack of two adversary pieces with one single attacking piece (especially a knight).
  8. (computer science) A splitting-up of an existing process into itself and a child process executing parts of the same program.
  9. (computer science) An event where development of some free software or open-source software is split into two or more separate projects.
  10. (British) Crotch.

Derived terms

Related terms


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.


to fork

Third person singular

Simple past

Past participle

Present participle

to fork (third-person singular simple present forks, present participle forking, simple past and past participle forked)

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


See also



From Old Norse forkr (boathook), from Latin furca (fork, pitchfork).


  • IPA: /fɔrk/, [fɒːɡ̊]


fork c. (singular definite forken, plural indefinite forke)

  1. (two-pronged) fork, pitchfork





fork f. (plural forken, diminutive forkje)

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

Simple English

A fork is a tool for eating. It has points called tines. Most forks have three or four tines. Some cooking-forks have two tines. The tines help you pick up your food. Forks are useful only for eating solid food. For example, a fork would be useless for eating soup because all the soup would fall through the tines and into your lap. Most forks are made of metal. Some are made of plastic or wood.

The word "fork" is also used to describe a two choices of course. A fork in the road would be a split in the road leading in two (or more) directions.

Forks are very common in Western Culture. Many countries do not use forks, but instead have their own ways to eat food.

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address