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[pich-fawrk] /ˈpɪtʃˌfɔrk/
a large, long-handled fork for manually lifting and pitching hay, stalks of grain, etc.
pitchforks, Northern U.S. beggar's-lice, especially the achenes of Spanish needles.
verb (used with object)
to pitch or throw with or as if with a pitchfork.
Origin of pitchfork
late Middle English
late Middle English word dating back to 1425-75; See origin at pitch1, fork Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for pitchforks
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The farmers stationed men at the field-gates with pitchforks, and sometimes with guns, to drive them back.

    Lives of the Engineers Samuel Smiles
  • Some of the people who had come in from the country had pitchforks.

    Deerbrook Harriet Martineau
  • Above the workhouse about six men armed with pitchforks met us.

    Debts of Honor Maurus Jkai
  • Throwing scythes and pitchforks aside, they snatched up their firearms.

    Manasseh Maurus Jokai
  • A fire was soon made, and into it the elfin sculpture was tossed from the prongs of two pairs of pitchforks.

British Dictionary definitions for pitchforks


a long-handled fork with two or three long curved tines for lifting, turning, or tossing hay
verb (transitive)
to use a pitchfork on (something)
to thrust (someone) unwillingly into a position
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for pitchforks



mid-14c., altered (by influence of pichen "to throw, thrust;" see pitch (v.1)) from Middle English pic-forken (c.1200), from pik (see pike (n.4)) + fork (n.). The verb is attested from 1837.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for pitchforks


Related Terms

rain cats and dogs

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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