[ adjective fur-keyt, -kit; verb fur-keyt ]
/ adjective ˈfɜr keɪt, -kɪt; verb ˈfɜr keɪt /
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See synonyms for: furcate / furcates / furcating on Thesaurus.com

forked; branching.
verb (used without object), fur·cat·ed, fur·cat·ing.
to form a fork; branch.
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Origin of furcate

First recorded in 1810–20, furcate is from the Medieval Latin word furcātus cloven. See fork, -ate1


fur·ca·tion [fer-key-shuhn], /fərˈkeɪ ʃən/, nounmul·ti·fur·cate, adjectiveun·fur·cate, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does furcate mean?

Furcate means to fork or divide into branches or different parts.

It can also be used as an adjective meaning forked or branching. The adjective furcated can be used to mean the same thing.

Things can furcate on their own or in an otherwise passive way, as in That’s where the river furcates into two branches, or they can be furcated by someone, as in We furcated the road into multiple lanes so more people could exit at once. 

The related verb bifurcate means to divide or fork into two branches or parts, and trifurcate means to divide or fork into three.

The noun furcation refers to the act of furcating or to something that is forked or has been split in such a way. These terms are most often used in technical and scientific contexts, such as engineering and medicine.

Example: The hiking trail furcates about three miles in, so make sure you go down the left branch.

Where does furcate come from?

The first records of furcate come from the 1800s. It comes from the Late Latin furcātus, meaning “forked,” from the Latin furc(a), “fork” (as in a fork in the road or a river).

In normal conversation, you’d say that a road or a river forks or splits, not that it furcates, unless you were trying to sound technical. Furcate is typically used in contexts in which structures are discussed in technical or scientific terms. Furcations can be found throughout nature in things like Y-shaped flowers, the tongues of snakes, even parts of the human body that fork into different channels, such as the arteries of the heart.

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What are some other forms related to furcate?

  • furcated (past tense verb, adjective)
  • furcation (noun)

What are some synonyms for furcate?

What are some words that share a root or word element with furcate


What are some words that often get used in discussing furcate?

How is furcate used in real life?

Furcate is usually used in technical or scientific contexts.



Try using furcate!

Which of the following things is likely to furcate?

A. a tree limb
B. an artery
C. a river
D. all of the above

How to use furcate in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for furcate


verb (ˈfɜːkeɪt)
to divide into two parts; fork
adjective (ˈfɜːkeɪt, -kɪt) furcated
forked; dividedfurcate branches

Derived forms of furcate

furcation, noun

Word Origin for furcate

C19: from Late Latin furcātus forked, from Latin furca a fork
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