A fork, in cutlery or kitchenware, is a tool consisting of a handle with several narrow tines on one end. The usually metal utensil is used to lift food to the mouth or to hold ingredients in place while they are being cut by a knife. Food can be lifted either by spearing it on the tines or by holding it on top of the tines, which are often curved slightly.
The early history of the fork is obscure. As a kitchen and dining utensil it is generally believed to have originated in the Roman Empire, as proved by archaeological evidences. The personal table fork most likely originated in the Eastern Roman (or Byzantine) Empire. Its use spread to what is now the Middle East during the first millennium AD and then spread into southern Europe during the second millennium. It did not become common in northern Europe until the 18th century and was not common in North America until the 19th century.
The fork is a primarily Western utensil, whereas in east Asia chopsticks have been more prevalent. Today, forks are increasingly available throughout east Asia.
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