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 word dating back to 1425–75; see origin at pitch1, fork
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pitchforks

Contemporary Examples of pitchforks

Historical Examples of pitchforks

  • 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.


    Maurus Jokai

  • Some of the people who had come in from the country had pitchforks.


    Harriet Martineau

  • It wos rainin' pitchforks, as y'might say, and I raced on through the rain for an hour or so.

    The Opal Serpent

    Fergus Hume

  • They threw their spades and pitchforks down And marched as rebels into town.

British Dictionary definitions for pitchforks



a long-handled fork with two or three long curved tines for lifting, turning, or tossing hay

verb (tr)

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

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