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

  • n. A utensil with two or more prongs, used for eating or serving food.
  • n. An implement with two or more prongs used for raising, carrying, piercing, or digging.
  • n. A bifurcation or separation into two or more branches or parts.
  • n. The point at which such a bifurcation or separation occurs: a fork in a road.
  • n. One of the branches of such a bifurcation or separation: the right fork. See Synonyms at branch.
  • n. Games An attack by one chess piece on two pieces at the same time.
  • transitive v. To raise, carry, pitch, or pierce with a fork.
  • transitive v. To give the shape of a fork to (one's fingers, for example).
  • transitive v. Games To launch an attack on (two chess pieces).
  • transitive v. Informal To pay. Used with over, out, or up: forked over $80 for front-row seats; forked up the money owed.
  • intransitive v. To divide into two or more branches: The river forks here.
  • intransitive v. To use a fork, as in working.
  • intransitive v. To turn at or travel along a fork.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A pronged tool having a long straight handle, used for digging, lifting, throwing etc.
  • n. A gallows.
  • n. A utensil with spikes used to put solid food into the mouth, or to hold food down while cutting.
  • n. A tuning fork.
  • n. An intersection in a road or path where one road is split into two.
  • n. A point where a waterway, such as a river, splits and goes two (or more) different directions.
  • n. Used in the names of some river tributaries, e.g. West Fork White River and East Fork White River, joining together to form the White River of Indiana
  • n. A point in time where one has to make a decision between two life paths.
  • n. The simultaneous attack of two adversary pieces with one single attacking piece (especially a knight).
  • n. A splitting-up of an existing process into itself and a child process executing parts of the same program.
  • n. An event where development of some free software or open-source software is split into two or more separate projects.
  • n. Crotch.
  • n. A forklift.
  • n. The individual blades of a forklift.
  • n. In a bicycle, the portion holding the front wheel, allowing the rider to steer and balance.
  • v. To move with a fork (as hay or food).
  • v. To spawn a new child process in some sense duplicating the existing process.
  • v. To split a (software) project into several projects.
  • v. To kick someone in the crotch.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. 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.
  • n. Anything furcate or like a fork in shape, or furcate at the extremity.
  • n. 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.
  • n. The place where a division or a union occurs; the angle or opening between two branches or limbs.
  • n. The gibbet.
  • intransitive v. To shoot into blades, as corn.
  • intransitive v. To divide into two or more branches.
  • transitive v. To raise, or pitch with a fork, as hay; to dig or turn over with a fork, as the soil.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • 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.
  • In chess, to attack (two hostile pieces) with a pawn.
  • n. An instrument or tool consisting of a handle with a shank, usually of metal, terminating in two or more prongs or tines.
  • n. 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.
  • n. Something resembling a fork in form
  • n. 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.
  • n. The point or barb of an arrow.
  • n. The bifurcated part of the human frame; the legs.
  • n. A gibbet; in the plural, the gallows. See furca.
  • n. In mining, the bottom of the sump.
  • n.
  • n. 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.
  • n. A piece of steel fitting into the socket or chuck on a lathe, used for driving the piece to be turned.
  • n. A position, in a game of chess, where two pieces are attacked at the same time by a pawn.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an agricultural tool used for lifting or digging; has a handle and metal prongs
  • v. place under attack with one's own pieces, of two enemy pieces
  • v. divide into two or more branches so as to form a fork
  • v. shape like a fork
  • v. lift with a pitchfork
  • n. cutlery used for serving and eating food
  • n. the region of the angle formed by the junction of two branches
  • n. the angle formed by the inner sides of the legs where they join the human trunk
  • n. the act of branching out or dividing into branches


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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  • "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

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

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

    May 7, 2010

  • 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

  • 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