What do the tines end at?
February 17, 2009 12:09 PM   Subscribe

What is the middle part of the fork called, that part where the tines end before the handle starts? Does it have a name?

My toddler would really like to know. If it just doesn't have a name, that would be nice to know too.
posted by Margalo Epps to Writing & Language (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would call it a 'palm', but do not know if that is official
posted by edgeways at 12:17 PM on February 17, 2009

Best answer: The root.
posted by contraption at 12:20 PM on February 17, 2009 [3 favorites]

Or the back, maybe, depending on which particular section you're talking about.
posted by contraption at 12:24 PM on February 17, 2009

Best answer: Margalo Epps- Generally, the area of a fork between the "prongs" and the "handle" is called the "Waist"

I couldn't find a better reference, but see page 2 for a visual.

Yes, my toddler asked me this too.

FYI: A Spork has a handle and a bowl with prongs, no waist.

Contraption - I believe the "root" is just the end of the slot for the prong, not the area Margalo Epps is asking about. On preview - yes your reference calls the area in queston just the "back."
posted by emjay at 12:31 PM on February 17, 2009

Best answer: Nice diagram, but I draw the opposite conclusion from it: the part in question doesn't seem to have a name (or surely it would be on the diagram). The root looks to be the end of the empty slots between the tines (compare the OED's definition 5.b. "The bottom of the groove of a screw thread"), and the back, is, well, the back (the part that's bulging away from you when you hold the fork normally).
posted by languagehat at 12:32 PM on February 17, 2009

Or what mj said, except he throws "waist" into the mix, which looks more plausible (though the diagram makes it look like that's the narrower part just before the handle gets wider).
posted by languagehat at 12:34 PM on February 17, 2009

Without being able to find any technical diagrams,
Cf various OED definitions, I'd think it was the 'apron':

4. Also in many technical uses: a. At the bottom of a sluice or entrance to a dock: A platform placed so as to intercept the fall of water, and prevent the washing away of the bottom. b. in Gunnery, A square piece of lead laid over the touch-hole. c. in Ship-building (see quot. 1850). d. in Plumbing, A strip of lead which conducts the drip of a wall into a gutter. e. in Electr. (see quot. 1869). f. in Mech. The piece that holds the cutting tool in a planing machine.

m. A flat, usually paved, surface in front of a building, hangar, etc., esp. an area on an aerodrome prepared for the easy handling, (un)loading, etc., of aircraft on the ground.
posted by Weighted Companion Cube at 12:37 PM on February 17, 2009

posted by asockpuppet at 1:02 PM on February 17, 2009

Response by poster: WCC -- have you found anything to suggest that anyone actually uses apron this way? It seems sensible, but I couldn't find any examples of it in use.

It sounds like "root" is the closest I'm going to get. (And for those wondering, yes, I do mean that flat, smooth part in between the tines and the "neck" or "waist". (I didn't know there was anything between the handle and the part I meant before, thanks!) And yes, LanguageHat, it does seem as if perhaps there is not a name for that area, but I think I'd rather tell my toddler "root" and let her sort out in a few years that only a small part of that area is called root, if she still cares then.
posted by Margalo Epps at 1:22 PM on February 17, 2009

Best answer: Briefly, I don't think this has a widely agreed upon name. In terms of modern cutlery production the fork as we know it evolved from the production of the spoon. This area on the spoon is called "the drop" - the end portion of the handle which was hammered flat to allow for easier soldering to the bowl, in the days when making a spoon involved seperate bowls and handles. Originally this was a flat portion of the handle which was visibly attached to the bowl (as seen here) but over time the obvious join between the round bowl and straight handle disappeared and the curves which we associate with the area between the handle and the bowl were developed. This wide area which forms the back of the bowl and tapers upwards towards the start of the handle was later passed on to the fork when it moved from the early 2 or 3 prong "kitchen fork" design to the cast fork we know today, early versions of which appeared in France in the 17th century. The addition of the area in question - the root, drop, waist, whatever - allowed for eating with the fork alone rather than a combination of fork with a spoon which would catch the food falling between the widely seperated tines.

The area on the fork primarily serves the same purpose as the drop on the spoon, a flattening and widening of the handle which allows the tines to be attached, but it is also useful for holding food. A throwback to the design of the spoon.
posted by fire&wings at 1:24 PM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: All right, you've convinced me. My toddler has learned that a fork goes: tines, root, bowl, neck, handle.
posted by Margalo Epps at 9:50 AM on March 31, 2009

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