Definition of fork in US English:



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

    • ‘She turned her back to us and jabbed her food with a fork.’
    • ‘He put his fork of food down and pulled out his pocket watch.’
    • ‘Glancing down at his plate, he picked at the cold cuts beneath his fork before reluctantly lifting the food to his mouth.’
    • ‘He noticed her picking at the food nervously with her fork.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She pushed the food around with her fork, and closed her eyes.’
    • ‘Using a fork will pierce food and natural juices will be lost.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘As the children filled their forks with nourishing food, bodily complications were discussed.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Jim sat down and picked up a fork, examining the food before him.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I heard the sound of metal utensils and plate colliding as the eater's spoons and forks battled with their food.’
    • ‘Someone's food fell off a fork into another's glass of wine.’
    • ‘She let him place a small bite of cheesecake in her mouth with a fork.’
    1. 1.1 A pronged tool used for digging or lifting in a garden or farm.
      • ‘Spike poorly drained patches of lawn with a garden fork, top-dressing with sand to improve the drainage.’
      • ‘Thrust 2 spading forks, back to back, into the clump and, using the handles of the forks as levers, pry the roots apart.’
      • ‘The traditional gardeners' tools of spades, forks and trowels have been replaced by sketchpads, hammers and nails.’
      • ‘He could heave it with a garden fork into the sacks.’
      • ‘Place forks, rakes and other pointed tools tines down.’
      • ‘Today, everything in the hall is sparkling, from the forks in the garden to those in the restaurant.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Sometimes referred to as a hand fork, the cultivator is used for weeding, and as its name implies, for cultivating the soil.’
      • ‘Scratch up the surface of any bare patches in the lawn using a garden fork or metal rake.’
      • ‘I had a cosmic kind of thought yesterday while turning over some garden soil with the spading fork.’
      • ‘Spiking the area with a garden fork driven into the lawn and gently moved backwards and forwards before removing will improve drainage.’
      • ‘Unlike the fork, the sod-coring tool removes cores of soil from the lawn instead of pushing the soil aside to create holes.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Turn the mixture once or twice a week with a pitch fork or garden fork to help the process along.’
      • ‘To avoid damaging the edible portions, use a garden fork to loosen the soil around the leeks first.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Anne wets down a large pile of leaves and stirs it up with a spading fork.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Rhizomes are easy to pry up with a garden fork or shovel.’
      • ‘Break up soil within the cutout using a garden fork.’
  • 2The point where something, especially a road or river, divides into two parts.

    • ‘A soldier came to a fork in the road and saw a nun standing there.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Some students believe that they face a sharp 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.’
    • ‘There are forks in the road of history where men such as you stand up to be counted.’
    • ‘It was as if she stood at a junction, or a fork in the road, and there wasn't any correct way to go.’
    • ‘In 1884, near the three forks of the Missouri River, Bridgeville, Montana Territory, became an English colony almost overnight.’
    • ‘Then strangely, as we came to a fork in the road - they departed, thanking me, as you might a bus driver.’
    • ‘With an election approaching, the US now finds itself at a fork in the road.’
    • ‘He walks the road of the right, but finds himself at a fork in the road.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘As time has passed and we have come to critical forks in the road, the church itself has not always taken the right turn.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘There was no parallel track left and the fork in the road had come.’
    • ‘Where was the fork in the road for America, the turning point sought in all those thousands of books and articles?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Shaken but not stirred [or deterred] by this, we pressed on until we came to a fork in the road.’
    • ‘Night had fallen prematurely as they turned a bend in the road, and finally caught sight of the river fork.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He got as far as their Second XI before reaching a fork in the road.’
    1. 2.1 Either of the two parts where a road or river divides.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘However, when the taxi driver took the fork in the road towards Manhattan rather than Long Island, a strange sensation washed over me.’
      • ‘His head raised he looked first down one fork and then down the other, finally choosing one and setting off again.’
      • ‘Ignore left fork and enter grounds of school.’
      • ‘At Kattikulam, the right fork of the road leads to Nagarhole and the left to Tirunelli through elephant sanctuaries and bamboo forests.’
      • ‘Halfway across, the trail runs back out to the eastern edge overlooking another fork of the canyon.’
      • ‘He didn't take the left fork in the road, he paid the consequences.’
      • ‘Do not take the south fork in the road or you will head to Ric Flair's Millennial Bog.’
      • ‘A left fork from the road led me along a track up to it.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘So, wasting no more time, I entered the maze and turned down the right fork in the path.’
      • ‘This band definitely took the right fork in the road.’
  • 3A unit consisting of a pair of supports in which a bicycle or motorcycle wheel revolves.

    • ‘His bike had shock absorbers on the front forks to absorb bumps, her bicycle had none.’
    • ‘Big knobby tires, suspension fork and disc brakes make this one mean extreme machine, or at least one that looks the part.’
    • ‘There was a hood ornament made out of forks shaped into a pair of horns (very Texan, I thought).’
    • ‘The best set up for a race fork would be light and stiff.’
    • ‘Vintage steel wheels and forks are hard to find.’
    • ‘All Reba forks use air spring technology and offer external or internal adjustment options.’
    • ‘Can you tell me what the benefit is of having a carbon fork?’
    • ‘But installing them such makes it possible to drop the bicycle forks down on your vehicle roof if you slip.’
    • ‘The front wheel attaches to the fork, which in turn links via bearings to the head set on the front of the frame.’
    • ‘It was used to generate 3D models of many of the bike's components, including its forks, handlebars and even the cyclists' helmets.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The wired mounting hardware works with oversized road bars and a variety of forks, but the wheel magnet only fits standard spokes.’
    • ‘The head stock was badly worn, which meant the forks carrying the front wheel were tenuously attached to the bikes frame.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Each wheel was carried in a fork formed by a pair of hydraulic shock absorber struts.’
    • ‘The ZAP system is an add-on, tire-drive system that mounts the motor to the front or rear bicycle forks.’
    • ‘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.’
  • 4A flash of forked lightning.

    • ‘Lightning forks scratched their summits and distant rainstorms hung like negligees billowing in the clean air.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A single fork of white lightning slashed the sky, hitting the willow in front of her.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She shivered, seeing blackness spread out like forks of lightning from the sun.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The entire sky writhed in agony above him, split by gigantic forks of lightning flashing between the clouds.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Just as a fork of lightening flashed past her window, two figures appeared in the doorway.’
    • ‘A brilliant fork of lightning erupted from the dark grey clouds, a clap of thunder following closely behind.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Their linings were tainted a blood-red hue - a fork of lightning flashed every now and then.’
    • ‘The forks that you can see are actually nitrogen and oxygen, which has been converted into plasma.’
    • ‘A bright fork of lightning struck the clouds ahead, and the outburst of thunder was deafening.’
    • ‘The screaming subsided and the forks of lightning vanished with a descending hiss.’
    • ‘A fork of lightning illuminated the imposing shape that hovered in the doorway.’
    • ‘A single fork of lightning slashed the sky, hitting the tree in front of her.’
    • ‘Just then, a fork of light streaked across the sky and a deafening roar filled her ears.’
  • 5Chess
    A simultaneous attack on two or more pieces by one piece.

    • ‘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.’


  • 1no object (especially of a road or other route) divide into two parts.

    ‘the place where the road forks’
    • ‘They continued down the path until it forked off into two paths, one going right, and the other going left.’
    • ‘The path behind them forked off; a small hillock just a short hundred metres away.’
    • ‘Sometimes the lightening forked across the sky like a crack in the dark firmament.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Lightning forked down from the sky, and thunder roared in sympathy moments later, adding to the hellish scene.’
    • ‘How does such a philosophy of life differ from the theory of multiple realities and infinitely forking paths?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The road forked and turned dangerously several times.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Narrow dirt paths forked from the stairs, leading to even denser rows of crosses amongst soft weeds.’
    • ‘Conversely, the trail intersections homeward-bound ants encounter have branches that fork at a sharp angle and a gentle one.’
    • ‘After a short time, they came across a bend in the dirt street, where two paths forked out.’
    • ‘The hallway was very plain, stretching for about twenty or thirty yards forwards before it forked into two separate hallways.’
    • ‘The road had forked shortly beyond the rest stop.’
    branch, split, divide, subdivide, separate, part, diverge, go in different directions, go separate ways, bifurcate, split in two
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1no object, with adverbial of direction Take or constitute one part or the other at the point where a road or other route divides.
      ‘a minor road forked left’
      • ‘At the top of the steps take the path forking left and cross a stile leading into a field.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She strengthened her grip on my arm, steered me onto a smaller path which forked off the main route to the left.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Take the lane forking right by the pub which crosses a bridge over the beck and passes the Lister Arms.’
      • ‘She walked out of the neighborhood, and onto a jaded road that forked off at one point towards the market area.’
      • ‘The views are for miles south down Wharfedale past Kilnsey Crag and for miles up the valley to where it forks west into Langstrothdale.’
  • 2with object Dig, lift, or manipulate (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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I cast my eyes down and begin desperately forking the salad.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘At least sardines are tiny and slippery and you can usually fork them through the tiny opening.’
    • ‘One of the main features of the day was the steam threshing which involved forking the stooks into the steam-powered conveyor belt.’
    • ‘‘Here, have some sausages,’ Jack said quietly, forking a number out of the frying pan onto his plate.’
    • ‘In a typical gesture of sibling acceptance, Hoss leaned over and forked Adam's untouched ham onto his own plate.’
    • ‘Gabe walks outside and heads for the barn where he finds Stuart and Nick hard at work forking new hay for the animals' beds.’
    • ‘‘Here, let me,’ he said, forking a few sausages and putting them on her plate.’
    • ‘He deliberately forked a bite of food from his companion's plate, ate it.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They bring the steaks out on a silver platter and fork them onto your plate.’
    • ‘Let the couscous plump up for 15 minutes, then fork it through to separate the grains.’
    • ‘Russ rolled his eyes as he forked some bland food into his mouth.’
    • ‘The soil was forked over, hoed and then riddled to remove larger stones and other debris.’
    • ‘Justin smiled with a slight incline of his head as he forked a bite of the blueberry pie.’
    • ‘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.’
  • 3Chess
    with object Attack (two pieces) simultaneously with one piece.

    • ‘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 over/out/up (or fork over/out/up)

    • Pay money for something, especially reluctantly.

      • ‘But hey, it's Comic Relief, I should just fork out the cash and shut up moaning.’
      • ‘Mary and the Countess conspire to get Martha to fork up some cash to save Downton Abbey, but grandma refuses.’
      • ‘One superfan has forked over $10,000 for a one-line speaking role.’
      • ‘Even though 50 dollars seems steep, suck it up and fork it out for this or any of his other works.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In the meantime, he'll have to fork out $400 a night to continue staying at a nearby hotel.’
      • ‘He had high hopes for his birthday bash and even forked out £10,000 for a private party.’
      • ‘He also forked over $15,000 for a veterans trip to Las Vegas.’
      • ‘Instead of forking over the cash, you can make many kitchen gadgets yourself.’
      • ‘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.’
      pay, pay up, pay out
      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).