1. A utensil with two or more prongs, used for eating or serving food.
2. An implement with two or more prongs used for raising, carrying, piercing, or digging.
a. A bifurcation or separation into two or more branches or parts.
b. The point at which such a bifurcation or separation occurs: a fork in a road.
c. One of the branches of such a bifurcation or separation: the right fork. See Synonyms at branch.
4. Games An attack by one chess piece on two pieces at the same time.
v. forked, fork·ing, forks
1. To raise, carry, pitch, or pierce with a fork.
2. To give the shape of a fork to (one's fingers, for example).
3. Games To launch an attack on (two chess pieces).
4. Informal To pay. Used with over, out, or up: forked over $80 for front-row seats; forked up the money owed.
1. To divide into two or more branches: The river forks here.
a. To use a fork, as in working.
b. To turn at or travel along a fork.
[Middle English forke, digging fork, from Old English forca and from Old North French forque, both from Latin furca.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.