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{{Short description|Agricultural tool}}{{Other uses}}
missing image!
- Haying.jpg -
Pitching hay
A pitchfork is an agricultural tool with a long handle and two (sometimes three) tines used to lift and pitch or throw loose material, such as hay, straw or leaves. The term is also applied colloquially, but inaccurately, to the garden fork. While similar in appearance, the garden fork is shorter and stockier than the pitchfork, with three or four thicker tines intended for turning or loosening the soil of gardens.Pitchforks appear in artworks whose subject is associated with agriculture.

Alternate terms

In some parts of England, a pitchfork is known as a prongBOOK,weblink Copper, Bob, 1975, 112, A Song for Every Season: A Hundred Years of a Sussex Farming Family, Paladin, St. Albans, Hertfordshire, August 26, 2019, . In parts of Ireland, the term sprong is used to refer specifically to a four-pronged pitchfork.BOOK,weblink Patrick Weston Joyce, Joyce, P. W., 2009, English As We Speak It in Ireland, Read Books, 832, August 26, 2019,


The typical pitchfork consists of a fork bearing two tines fixed to one end of a handle. Pitchfork tines are typically made of metals such as steel, wrought iron, or some other alloy, though wood or bamboo tines may also be employed. The handle of a pitchfork is commonly made of wood, sometimes sheathed or shielded with rubber or plastic. True pitchforks typically have two (sometimes three) tines while manure forks have four or more. However, some forks with more than three tines are also used for handling loose material such as hay or silage.WEB,weblink Why All Pitchforks Are Not Alike, October 1996, Rhode, Dr. Robert T., Farm Collector, February 4, 2016, Other forks may exhibit up to ten tines. The number of tines and the spacing between them is determined by the intended usage of the fork. Forks with larger numbers of tines and closer spacing are intended to carry or move loose material such as dirt, sand, silage, or large, coarse grains. Forks with fewer, more widely-spaced tines are intended to hold hay, straw, and other self-supporting or bulky materials.


In Europe, the pitchfork was first used in the early Middle Ages, at about the same time as the harrow.BOOK, McNeill, J. R, Stewart Mauldin, Erin, A Companion to Global Environmental History, November 2012, Wiley-Blackwell, 9781118977538, 342, 1st, Such pitchforks were made entirely of wood, lacking the metal tines of later pitchforks.Historically, pitchforks were occasionally employed as improvised weapons by individuals who could not afford or did not have access to specialized, more expensive weapons such as swords or guns.WEB,weblink Medieval Men,, February 13, 2014, As a result, pitchforks and scythes are stereotypically carried by angry mobs or gangs of enraged peasants.

In popular culture

File:Buonaparte, 48 hours after landing.jpg|right|thumb|200px|Propaganda image by James Gillray (1803) showing John Bull holding the head of Napoleon BonaparteNapoleon Bonaparte


File:Grant Wood - American Gothic - Google Art Project.jpg|thumb|right|American Gothic, by Grant WoodGrant WoodA notable American artistic display of a three-pronged pitchfork is in the painting American Gothic (1930) by Grant Wood. There are other paintings by various artists which depict a wide variety of pitchforks and other tools in use and at rest.WEB, Ritch, Alan,weblink Resting in the hay (1592-1900), Hay In Art, February 6, 2006, February 13, 2014,


Because of its association with peasantry and farming, the pitchfork has been used as a populist symbol and appended as a nickname for certain leading populist figures, such as "Pitchfork" Ben Tillman and "Pitchfork" Pat Buchanan.The Gangster Disciples, a street gang in the midwestern United States, use a three-pointed pitchfork as one of their symbols.WEB, Gutierrez, Carl D., Asset Protection for the 21st Century,weblink Food Marketing Institute, Food Marketing Institute, 27 August 2019,

Religious symbolism

The pitchfork is often used in lieu of the trident in popular portrayals and satire of Christian demonology. Many humorous cartoons, both animated and otherwise, feature a caricature of a demon supposedly wielding a "pitchfork" (often actually a trident) sitting on one shoulder of the protagonist, opposite an angel on the other shoulder.{{Citation needed|date=October 2013}}The Hellenistic deity Hades wields a bident, a two-pronged weapon similar in form to a pitchfork but actually related to the trident in design and purpose.

See also


{{Commons category}}{{Reflist}}{{Garden tools}}

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