Origin of fork

before 1000; Middle English forke, Old English forca < Latin furca fork, gallows, yoke
Related formsfork·less, adjectivefork·like, adjectiveun·fork, verb (used with object)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for fork

Contemporary Examples of fork

Historical Examples of fork

  • I went back into the corn, found the river, followed it back a long way and mounted into the fork of a low tree.

  • Lying is like Nature, you may expel her with a fork, but she will always come back again.

  • With five thousand infantry and one hundred and eighty cavalry he has advanced to a ford beyond the fork of Chateauguay.

  • He jammed his fork into the hay and scrambled down the ladder to the barn floor.

    The Duck-footed Hound

    James Arthur Kjelgaard

  • Eating with a fork, he thought odd, and not nearly as convenient as a knife.

    Tom, The Bootblack

    Horatio Alger

British Dictionary definitions for fork



a small usually metal implement consisting of two, three, or four long thin prongs on the end of a handle, used for lifting food to the mouth or turning it in cooking, etc
an agricultural tool consisting of a handle and three or four metal prongs, used for lifting, digging, etc
a pronged part of any machine, device, etc
(of a road, river, etc)
  1. a division into two or more branches
  2. the point where the division begins
  3. such a branch
mainly US the main tributary of a river
chess a position in which two pieces are forked


(tr) to pick up, dig, etc, with a fork
(tr) chess to place (two enemy pieces) under attack with one of one's own pieces, esp a knight
(tr) to make into the shape of a fork
(intr) to be divided into two or more branches
to take one or other branch at a fork in a road, river, etc
Derived Formsforkful, noun

Word Origin for fork

Old English forca, from Latin furca
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

Word Origin and History for fork

Old English forca "forked instrument used by torturers," a Germanic borrowing (cf. Old Norse forkr) from Latin furca "pitchfork; fork used in cooking," of uncertain origin.

Table forks were not generally used in England until 15c. The word is first attested in this sense in English in a will of 1463, probably from Old North French forque (Old French furche, Modern French fourche), from the Latin word. Of rivers, from 1753; of roads, from 1839.


"to divide in branches, go separate ways" (early 14c.), from fork (n.). Related: Forked; forking. The slang verb phrase fork up (or out) "give over" is from 1831.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper