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For other meanings of fork see fork (disambiguation)

A fork is an implement with a handle on one end and long tines on the other; it is used for pricking, to hold or transfer something. It was originally used in the West, whereas chopsticks were more popular in eastern Asia. Today, however, forks are available throughout Asia as well.

In particular it is a (usually metal) utensil for transferring food to the mouth or to hold food in place during the cooking process or while cutting it. Transferring is often done without pricking, by just putting the food on the more or less horizontal tines. For this spoon-like use the tines are curved.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Types of fork


Before the fork was introduced westerners were reliant on the spoon and knives. Most, however, would eat food with their hands. Refined eaters would hold two knives at meals and use them to both cut and transport food to their mouths.

The fork was introduced in the Middle East before the year 1000. The earliest forks usually had only two tines, but multiple ones caught on quickly. The tines were also straight, meaning the fork could only be used for spearing food and not for scooping it. The fork was a great development in that it allowed meat to be easily held in place while being cut. The fork also allowed one to spike a piece of meat and shake off any excess sauce before consuming it. By the eleventh century the table fork had made its way to Italy by way of Byzantium. In Italy it became quite popular by the fourteenth century, being used by merchant and upper classes for eating by 1600.

The fork's arrival in northern Europe was more difficult. For many years it was viewed as an unmanly Italian affectation. It was not until the eighteenth century that the fork became commonly used in Britain. It was around this time that the curved fork used today was developed in Germany. The standard four-tine design also became current at this time (the three-pronged variety is known as a trident).

Types of fork

Non-cutlery types of fork