from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A utensil with two or more prongs, used for eating or serving food.
  • noun An implement with two or more prongs used for raising, carrying, piercing, or digging.
  • noun A bifurcation or separation into two or more branches or parts.
  • noun The point at which such a bifurcation or separation occurs.
  • noun One of the branches of such a bifurcation or separation: synonym: branch.
  • noun Games An attack by one chess piece on two pieces at the same time.
  • intransitive verb To raise, carry, pitch, or pierce with a fork.
  • intransitive verb To give the shape of a fork to (one's fingers, for example).
  • intransitive verb Games To launch an attack on (two chess pieces).
  • intransitive verb Informal To pay. Used with over, out, or up:
  • intransitive verb To divide into two or more branches.
  • intransitive verb To use a fork, as in working.
  • intransitive verb To turn at or travel along a fork.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • In chess, to attack (two hostile pieces) with a pawn.
  • To raise or pitch with a fork, as hay.
  • To dig and break with a fork, as ground.
  • In mining, to pump or otherwise clear out (water) from a shaft or mine.
  • To become bifurcated or forked; send out diverging parts like the tines of a fork.
  • In mining, to draw out water from a shaft.
  • noun In mech.: A pair of teeth or pins standing out from a bar and inclosing a space within which runs the belt of a machine fitted with fast and loose pulleys. By moving the bar which carries the pins endwise the belt can be shifted.
  • noun A piece of steel fitting into the socket or chuck on a lathe, used for driving the piece to be turned.
  • noun A position, in a game of chess, where two pieces are attacked at the same time by a pawn.
  • noun An instrument or tool consisting of a handle with a shank, usually of metal, terminating in two or more prongs or tines.
  • noun One of various agricultural tools with the prongs of which loose substances are gathered and lifted, as a hay-fork or dung-fork. See pitchfork.
  • noun Something resembling a fork in form
  • noun One of the parts into which anything is divided by bifurcation; a forking branch or division; a prong or shoot: as, the forks of a road or stream; Clark's fork of Columbia river; a fork of lightning.
  • noun The point or barb of an arrow.
  • noun The bifurcated part of the human frame; the legs.
  • noun A gibbet; in the plural, the gallows. See furca.
  • noun In mining, the bottom of the sump.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb To shoot into blades, as corn.
  • intransitive verb To divide into two or more branches.
  • transitive verb To raise, or pitch with a fork, as hay; to dig or turn over with a fork, as the soil.
  • transitive verb [Slang] to hand or pay over, as money; to cough up.
  • noun An instrument consisting of a handle with a shank terminating in two or more prongs or tines, which are usually of metal, parallel and slightly curved; -- used for piercing, holding, taking up, or pitching anything.
  • noun Anything furcate or like a fork in shape, or furcate at the extremity.
  • noun One of the parts into which anything is furcated or divided; a prong; a branch of a stream, a road, etc.; a barbed point, as of an arrow.
  • noun The place where a division or a union occurs; the angle or opening between two branches or limbs.
  • noun obsolete The gibbet.
  • noun (Shipbuilding) a half beam to support a deck, where hatchways occur.
  • noun (Wood Turning) a lathe center having two prongs for driving the work.
  • noun The forked end of a rod which forms part of a knuckle joint.
  • noun (Mining) A mine is said to be in fork, or an engine to “have the water in fork,” when all the water is drawn out of the mine.
  • noun the branches into which it divides, or which come together to form it; the place where separation or union takes place.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A pronged tool having a long straight handle, used for digging, lifting, throwing etc.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English forke, digging fork, from Old English forca and from Old North French forque, both from Latin furca.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English forke ("digging fork"), from Old English force, forca ("forked instrument used to torture"), from Proto-Germanic *furkōn, *furkô (“fork”), from Latin furca ("pitchfork, forked stake", also "gallows, beam, stake, support post, yoke"), of uncertain origin. The Middle English word was later reinforced by Anglo-Norman, Old Northern French forque (= Old French forche whence French fourche), also from the Latin. Cognate also with North Frisian forck ("fork"), Dutch vork ("fork"), Danish fork ("fork"), German Forke ("pitchfork"). Displaced native gafol, ġeafel, ġeafle ("fork"), from Old English.


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  • In chess, attacking two pieces at once, typically with a knight. I've also used trork, and quork has never come up.

    February 21, 2007

  • Manx word for ear-marks on sheep:

    "A perpendicular V-shaped cut in the top of the ear—in Maughold, at any rate. It is made by folding the ear lengthwise and cutting off the point, thus making a wide notch in the tip. 'Fork' is the Cumbrian name for the same mark. A semi-circle punched out of the top of the ear is also called a fork by some men."

    —W. Walter Gill, Manx Dialect Words and Phrases, 1934

    April 23, 2009

  • Your second Century Dictionary etymology looks to have been cut off:

    "(fork, n." (that's it)

    May 7, 2010

  • "Apart from carving forks and tiny sucket forks, table forks had been so rare that Elizabeth I owned only thirteen, made of silver; though the Italian merchant class had adopted them at table, in England they had been considered affected. Then, in 1611, Thomas Coryat returned from five months abroad to declare that he was the first Englishman to embrace the Italian habit... The acceptance of the fork appears to have been rapid.... John Manners, the 8th earl of Rutland, was among the first to have a set made -- squarish and with only two tines. Just one of them survived the rigours of the Civil War, the earliest known English silver fork, hallmarked 1632. It now sits humbly in a case in London's Victoria and Albert Museum."

    --Kate Colquhoun, Taste: The Story of Britain Through Its Cooking (NY: Bloomsbury, 2007), 134

    January 11, 2017