O.E. forca "forked instrument used by torturers," from L. furca "pitchfork," of uncertain origin. Table forks were not generally used in England until 15c. The word is first attested in this sense in English in a will of 1463, probably from O.N.Fr. forque, from the L. word. The verb "to divide in branches" is from the noun. Related: Forked; forking. The slang verb phrase fork up (or out) "give over" is from 1831.