Definition of fork in English:



  • 1An implement with two or more prongs used for lifting food to the mouth or holding it when cutting.

    • ‘All these invite the sidelong glances of those who pretend not to be looking, as when in a restaurant, she struggles to keep the food on the fork long enough to deposit it in the mouth.’
    • ‘I glanced around at the rest of the family, forks in the left hand, knives in the right, busily pushing food onto their forks with their knives.’
    • ‘Watching, under her lashes, as he sliced the tip of the ham, scraped it in the dressing and then swirled it through the salad before shovelling the laden fork into his mouth.’
    • ‘Jim sat down and picked up a fork, examining the food before him.’
    • ‘Someone's food fell off a fork into another's glass of wine.’
    • ‘Using a fork will pierce food and natural juices will be lost.’
    • ‘I was sitting on an end, half consumed by darkness, which made it difficult to see what was travelling on my fork into my mouth.’
    • ‘And in the friendly skies, a friend, who flew business class, was given a plastic knife and a steel fork with his in-flight food.’
    • ‘She let him place a small bite of cheesecake in her mouth with a fork.’
    • ‘She bounced and grinned in response and happily stuffed the fork into her mouth, making sure to clean off every bit of food before she brought it back down again.’
    • ‘Both were served with delicious green beans that still had a nice crunch to them and little roasted potatoes that you could easily pop into your mouth without a fork.’
    • ‘The herb mash was a tad too firm, although tasty enough, but that was more than made up for by the sheer quality, freshness and succulence of fish that virtually dissolved as the fork hit the mouth.’
    • ‘He put his fork of food down and pulled out his pocket watch.’
    • ‘As the children filled their forks with nourishing food, bodily complications were discussed.’
    • ‘She pushed the food around with her fork, and closed her eyes.’
    • ‘Glancing down at his plate, he picked at the cold cuts beneath his fork before reluctantly lifting the food to his mouth.’
    • ‘She turned her back to us and jabbed her food with a fork.’
    • ‘I heard the sound of metal utensils and plate colliding as the eater's spoons and forks battled with their food.’
    • ‘A man often puts a piece of food on his fork, puts it in his mouth, swallows it, often too quickly to properly taste it, stops eating when he no longer feels hungry.’
    • ‘He noticed her picking at the food nervously with her fork.’
    1. 1.1A farm or garden tool with three or four prongs, used for digging or lifting.
      • ‘The first half ended with the skit entitled I didn't do it, in which Joseph plays a schoolboy arrested by the police for obscene language while working in the school garden with hoes, forks and agricultural tools.’
      • ‘Scratch up the surface of any bare patches in the lawn using a garden fork or metal rake.’
      • ‘Anne wets down a large pile of leaves and stirs it up with a spading fork.’
      • ‘Spike poorly drained patches of lawn with a garden fork, top-dressing with sand to improve the drainage.’
      • ‘Unlike the fork, the sod-coring tool removes cores of soil from the lawn instead of pushing the soil aside to create holes.’
      • ‘The traditional gardeners' tools of spades, forks and trowels have been replaced by sketchpads, hammers and nails.’
      • ‘Today, everything in the hall is sparkling, from the forks in the garden to those in the restaurant.’
      • ‘Spiking the area with a garden fork driven into the lawn and gently moved backwards and forwards before removing will improve drainage.’
      • ‘Place forks, rakes and other pointed tools tines down.’
      • ‘As the soil was very friable due to being sieved into all treatment plots, rows were lifted with a garden fork and the retrieved roots were taken as representative of the root system.’
      • ‘Thrust 2 spading forks, back to back, into the clump and, using the handles of the forks as levers, pry the roots apart.’
      • ‘He could heave it with a garden fork into the sacks.’
      • ‘I had a cosmic kind of thought yesterday while turning over some garden soil with the spading fork.’
      • ‘To avoid damaging the edible portions, use a garden fork to loosen the soil around the leeks first.’
      • ‘Turn the mixture once or twice a week with a pitch fork or garden fork to help the process along.’
      • ‘Another alternative, this one relating to the common problem of dandelions in the yard, is to use a weed fork, or a tool, to pull up the dandelions.’
      • ‘Break up soil within the cutout using a garden fork.’
      • ‘So I indicated that my goal henceforth was the space between two prongs of a garden fork, whereas his was the expanse between an apple tree and a pear tree in our fruity back garden.’
      • ‘Sometimes referred to as a hand fork, the cultivator is used for weeding, and as its name implies, for cultivating the soil.’
      • ‘Rhizomes are easy to pry up with a garden fork or shovel.’
    2. 1.2[as modifier]Denoting a light meal or buffet that may be eaten solely with a fork, while standing.
      ‘a hot fork buffet’
      • ‘A Right Royal Jubilee Recipe Book includes menu ideas for a fork lunch, dozens of dishes and is rounded off with a recipe for Commonwealth cake.’
      • ‘Baked chicken is a fork food, but fried chicken a finger food, depending on how it's fried.’
      • ‘The evening will commence at 7.30pm with a hot fork buffet at 8pm in the Hydro Suite with all the trimmings and award winning decorations.’
  • 2The point where something, especially a road or river, divides into two parts.

    ‘turn right at the next fork’
    • ‘He got as far as their Second XI before reaching a fork in the road.’
    • ‘Then strangely, as we came to a fork in the road - they departed, thanking me, as you might a bus driver.’
    • ‘Night had fallen prematurely as they turned a bend in the road, and finally caught sight of the river fork.’
    • ‘He went on to note that the Flatheads, possessing large numbers of horses and lacking buffalo, traveled long distances to the forks of the Missouri River every fall to hunt.’
    • ‘Park just before the house at the fork in the road, and begin the walk up the grassy path on the left immediately behind the house.’
    • ‘He walks the road of the right, but finds himself at a fork in the road.’
    • ‘Yet the path to class identity was not a straightforward one either in industrial or agricultural communities; there were many forks in the road, as recent local studies now reveal.’
    • ‘But the opposite holds true if the house is at the end of a T-junction or in the fork of a road where it faces oncoming traffic.’
    • ‘With an election approaching, the US now finds itself at a fork in the road.’
    • ‘When faced with a fork in the road, you can always sit and wait for someone else to make the decision.’
    • ‘A soldier came to a fork in the road and saw a nun standing there.’
    • ‘In 1884, near the three forks of the Missouri River, Bridgeville, Montana Territory, became an English colony almost overnight.’
    • ‘There are forks in the road of history where men such as you stand up to be counted.’
    • ‘As time has passed and we have come to critical forks in the road, the church itself has not always taken the right turn.’
    • ‘It was as if she stood at a junction, or a fork in the road, and there wasn't any correct way to go.’
    • ‘Where was the fork in the road for America, the turning point sought in all those thousands of books and articles?’
    • ‘Some students believe that they face a sharp fork in the road.’
    • ‘Shaken but not stirred [or deterred] by this, we pressed on until we came to a fork in the road.’
    • ‘There was no parallel track left and the fork in the road had come.’
    • ‘For now though it's just an oncoming fork in the road - nothing I can do about it, as the entire process is entirely out of my hands.’
    1. 2.1Either of two forked parts.
      ‘the left fork goes on to the village’
      • ‘He didn't take the left fork in the road, he paid the consequences.’
      • ‘However, when the taxi driver took the fork in the road towards Manhattan rather than Long Island, a strange sensation washed over me.’
      • ‘At Kattikulam, the right fork of the road leads to Nagarhole and the left to Tirunelli through elephant sanctuaries and bamboo forests.’
      • ‘His head raised he looked first down one fork and then down the other, finally choosing one and setting off again.’
      • ‘Halfway across, the trail runs back out to the eastern edge overlooking another fork of the canyon.’
      • ‘If a player made a mistake when making their way through a lair in that game, it could mean certain death as they tried to get back and try a different fork in the road.’
      • ‘Do not take the south fork in the road or you will head to Ric Flair's Millennial Bog.’
      • ‘It's more of a thumbnail character study of a guy who has apparently taken the wrong fork on every road he's traveled.’
      • ‘About five hundred yards down this lane it forks, and for those pegs around the weir you should take the right hand fork, parking near the footbridge that crosses the canal by the weir.’
      • ‘This band definitely took the right fork in the road.’
      • ‘Ignore left fork and enter grounds of school.’
      • ‘So, wasting no more time, I entered the maze and turned down the right fork in the path.’
      • ‘A left fork from the road led me along a track up to it.’
  • 3Each of a pair of supports in which a bicycle or motorcycle wheel revolves.

    • ‘Big knobby tires, suspension fork and disc brakes make this one mean extreme machine, or at least one that looks the part.’
    • ‘Vintage steel wheels and forks are hard to find.’
    • ‘Can you tell me what the benefit is of having a carbon fork?’
    • ‘His bike had shock absorbers on the front forks to absorb bumps, her bicycle had none.’
    • ‘The ladder arms are brought together at the front and angled up to become the headstock for the motorcycle forks, which are kept at a more vertical angle to allow for the extremely sharp turns.’
    • ‘I can now answer the question with data and affirm that roof racks do not put excess stress on forks.’
    • ‘All Reba forks use air spring technology and offer external or internal adjustment options.’
    • ‘The best set up for a race fork would be light and stiff.’
    • ‘Here is my take on the issue of roof racks and the stress they cause on forks and their dropouts.’
    • ‘The fork comes with disc brake mounts if a person would ever be interested in upgrading.’
    • ‘But installing them such makes it possible to drop the bicycle forks down on your vehicle roof if you slip.’
    • ‘It was used to generate 3D models of many of the bike's components, including its forks, handlebars and even the cyclists' helmets.’
    • ‘The ZAP system is an add-on, tire-drive system that mounts the motor to the front or rear bicycle forks.’
    • ‘The head stock was badly worn, which meant the forks carrying the front wheel were tenuously attached to the bikes frame.’
    • ‘The wired mounting hardware works with oversized road bars and a variety of forks, but the wheel magnet only fits standard spokes.’
    • ‘Each wheel was carried in a fork formed by a pair of hydraulic shock absorber struts.’
    • ‘There was a hood ornament made out of forks shaped into a pair of horns (very Texan, I thought).’
    • ‘The front wheel attaches to the fork, which in turn links via bearings to the head set on the front of the frame.’
    • ‘We see children come into the shop, asking us to blow their tyres up, and we find brakes that don't work, forks badly bent and wheels buckled.’
  • 4A flash of forked lightning.

    • ‘If things weren't hard enough for Dr. Steve and his staff, the weather took a turn for the worse and forks of lightning nearly missed the boat many times.’
    • ‘I made it as quick as possible - the rain was still being blown hard against the windows and I could see large forks of lightning through the sheets of rain.’
    • ‘It's a worship dance to the god of thunder and lightning in which the arms and legs mimic the claps of thunder and forks of lightning.’
    • ‘Just then, a fork of light streaked across the sky and a deafening roar filled her ears.’
    • ‘Great booms and rumbles of electricity and bright forks of light above the London skyline - and the kind of excitement, tingling and calm that can only accompany a storm.’
    • ‘Just as a fork of lightening flashed past her window, two figures appeared in the doorway.’
    • ‘A fork of lightning illuminated the imposing shape that hovered in the doorway.’
    • ‘She takes a step towards the edge, a branching fork of lightning flaring across the sky behind her, rain pelting her face but failing to muss her hair.’
    • ‘There was a loud crack of thunder, then a long fork of lightning and sparks emitted from nowhere and struck the figure right in the chest.’
    • ‘The entire sky writhed in agony above him, split by gigantic forks of lightning flashing between the clouds.’
    • ‘A single fork of lightning slashed the sky, hitting the tree in front of her.’
    • ‘She shivered, seeing blackness spread out like forks of lightning from the sun.’
    • ‘Lightning forks scratched their summits and distant rainstorms hung like negligees billowing in the clean air.’
    • ‘Their linings were tainted a blood-red hue - a fork of lightning flashed every now and then.’
    • ‘A bright fork of lightning struck the clouds ahead, and the outburst of thunder was deafening.’
    • ‘He let loose with a short hiss of pain just as the crowd gasped and began running home as forks of lightning shot from the clouds above.’
    • ‘The screaming subsided and the forks of lightning vanished with a descending hiss.’
    • ‘The forks that you can see are actually nitrogen and oxygen, which has been converted into plasma.’
    • ‘A brilliant fork of lightning erupted from the dark grey clouds, a clap of thunder following closely behind.’
    • ‘A single fork of white lightning slashed the sky, hitting the willow in front of her.’
  • 5Chess
    A simultaneous attack on two or more pieces by one.

    • ‘A fork occurs when one piece attacks two or more enemy units at the same time.’
    • ‘Forks are covered in the chapter ‘The Double Attack,’ although many would consider forks to be a separate species of double attack.’


  • 1[no object] (especially of a route) divide into two parts.

    ‘the place where the road forks’
    • ‘The road forked and turned dangerously several times.’
    • ‘Manchester was a meeting and dividing point of Roman roads, forking at the site of the present cathedral and progressing through Radcliffe to Ribchester, while another road crossed Blackstone to Ilkley.’
    • ‘He scampered into the shaft and continued for some hundred yards until the path abruptly forked once more.’
    • ‘The land was a desert around him, but just beyond the reach of his fingertips, lightning forked from air to ground in continuous strikes.’
    • ‘The path behind them forked off; a small hillock just a short hundred metres away.’
    • ‘He repeated this three times and pointed to the sky, which began to resound with thunder, huge ominous dark clouds started to gather, lightning forked once or twice.’
    • ‘The road had forked shortly beyond the rest stop.’
    • ‘You use anything you can, think on your feet, and talk in a way that's often very ambiguous, although it sounds very specific, and allows you to fork off in different directions.’
    • ‘Frequent bolts of lightning forked through the sky, lighting up her surroundings with an eerie brightness.’
    • ‘As the gates started to open, Wilton could see a trail of light leading in through them, up the driveway, and in behind a large sign at the place where the road forked.’
    • ‘How does such a philosophy of life differ from the theory of multiple realities and infinitely forking paths?’
    • ‘The hallway was very plain, stretching for about twenty or thirty yards forwards before it forked into two separate hallways.’
    • ‘After a short time, they came across a bend in the dirt street, where two paths forked out.’
    • ‘Sometimes the lightening forked across the sky like a crack in the dark firmament.’
    • ‘They continued down the path until it forked off into two paths, one going right, and the other going left.’
    • ‘The stem is cast as a slender tree branch, one end forking into two tines; the spoon end is applied, shaped as a mussel shell with a gilt interior.’
    • ‘Narrow dirt paths forked from the stairs, leading to even denser rows of crosses amongst soft weeds.’
    • ‘Lightning forked down from the sky, and thunder roared in sympathy moments later, adding to the hellish scene.’
    • ‘However, when he came near a road that forked in three directions, the people Iokaste had described came in a colt-drawn carriage and tried to get him off the road and shoved him.’
    • ‘Conversely, the trail intersections homeward-bound ants encounter have branches that fork at a sharp angle and a gentle one.’
    branch, split, divide, subdivide, separate, part, diverge, go in different directions, go separate ways, bifurcate, split in two
    branch off
    furcate, divaricate, ramify
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[no object, with adverbial of direction]Take or constitute one route or the other at the point where a route divides.
      ‘we forked north-west for Rannoch’
      • ‘She strengthened her grip on my arm, steered me onto a smaller path which forked off the main route to the left.’
      • ‘Just before the house, take a path that forks to the right and then go right again after 20 yards, following the edge of a field up to a minor road.’
      • ‘The views are for miles south down Wharfedale past Kilnsey Crag and for miles up the valley to where it forks west into Langstrothdale.’
      • ‘Take the lane forking right by the pub which crosses a bridge over the beck and passes the Lister Arms.’
      • ‘At the top of the steps take the path forking left and cross a stile leading into a field.’
      • ‘Take the track forking sharply left and follow this boggy walled route gradually uphill along a ridge for a further one and a half miles.’
      • ‘She walked out of the neighborhood, and onto a jaded road that forked off at one point towards the market area.’
    2. 1.2Computing Split (a process) into two or more independent processes.
      ‘the attack can only work against a server that forks separate processes to handle client requests’
      • ‘Some parameters can be changed during the execution of the program, i.e., the number of threads forked in a parallel region.’
      • ‘I would go one step further, and fork the kernel - source - to remove any trace of DRM in any piece of code in the kernel source.’
  • 2[with object] Dig or move (something) with a fork.

    ‘fork in some compost’
    • ‘She swallowed, carefully averting her eyes as she forked a small amount of the spaghetti onto her plate, taking her time as she did so.’
    • ‘‘Here, have some sausages,’ Jack said quietly, forking a number out of the frying pan onto his plate.’
    • ‘Let the couscous plump up for 15 minutes, then fork it through to separate the grains.’
    • ‘Efforts were intensified in the summer battle against canal moss, and more men and equipment were brought in to fork it out of the canals and into dump trucks.’
    • ‘It was forked onto the dray, walked down to pack it, the sides were raked neatly and then it was tied down with ropes and nets.’
    • ‘One of the main features of the day was the steam threshing which involved forking the stooks into the steam-powered conveyor belt.’
    • ‘They bring the steaks out on a silver platter and fork them onto your plate.’
    • ‘In a typical gesture of sibling acceptance, Hoss leaned over and forked Adam's untouched ham onto his own plate.’
    • ‘Justin smiled with a slight incline of his head as he forked a bite of the blueberry pie.’
    • ‘I cast my eyes down and begin desperately forking the salad.’
    • ‘At least sardines are tiny and slippery and you can usually fork them through the tiny opening.’
    • ‘Russ rolled his eyes as he forked some bland food into his mouth.’
    • ‘Gabe walks outside and heads for the barn where he finds Stuart and Nick hard at work forking new hay for the animals' beds.’
    • ‘The soil was forked over, hoed and then riddled to remove larger stones and other debris.’
    • ‘The hay was forked into the hayshed, when the pile got so high; someone had to go up and ‘tramp’ it and throw it to the back of the hayshed.’
    • ‘He deliberately forked a bite of food from his companion's plate, ate it.’
    • ‘This morning I lifted the last of our parsnips, so that I could fork some well-rotted manure into the raised beds in preparation for this year's sowing.’
    • ‘Then, in the spring, apply a general-purpose fertiliser, such as Growmore, and lightly fork it in.’
    • ‘After a crash course on dining with élan and forking food with flair, the surprise test came on china piled high with tricky-to-eat broccoli, sprouts and small sautéed potatoes.’
    • ‘‘Here, let me,’ he said, forking a few sausages and putting them on her plate.’
  • 3Chess
    [with object] Attack (two pieces) simultaneously with one.

    ‘he has forked my bishop and knight’
    • ‘When you forked my knight and king, that really was a good move.’
    • ‘Black has just pushed his pawn to d5, forking White's Bishop and Knight.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • fork something out (or over or up)

    • Pay money for something, especially reluctantly.

      ‘my car had been towed away and I had to fork out 70 quid’
      • ‘Mary and the Countess conspire to get Martha to fork up some cash to save Downton Abbey, but grandma refuses.’
      • ‘But hey, it's Comic Relief, I should just fork out the cash and shut up moaning.’
      • ‘Even though 50 dollars seems steep, suck it up and fork it out for this or any of his other works.’
      • ‘Instead of forking over the cash, you can make many kitchen gadgets yourself.’
      • ‘He also forked over $15,000 for a veterans trip to Las Vegas.’
      • ‘You have forked the money out every month for years and years and now they don't want to know you, they will not cover you for the things which you need cover for due to age.’
      • ‘No matter what type of store you walk into, you'll find all types of carefully engineered tricks that get you to fork over cash.’
      • ‘He had high hopes for his birthday bash and even forked out £10,000 for a private party.’
      • ‘In the meantime, he'll have to fork out $400 a night to continue staying at a nearby hotel.’
      • ‘One superfan has forked over $10,000 for a one-line speaking role.’
      pay, pay up, pay out
      come up with, hand over, part with, defray the cost of
      foot the bill, settle up
      cough up, shell out, dish out, lay out, come across with
      stump up
      make with, ante up, pony up
      View synonyms


Old English forca, force (denoting a farm implement), based on Latin furca pitchfork, forked stick; reinforced in Middle English by Anglo-Norman French furke (also from Latin furca).