Tine (structural)

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A three-tined pitchfork Pitchfork in July 2006.jpg
A three-tined pitchfork

Tines ( /ˈtnz/ ; also spelled tynes), prongs or teeth are parallel or branching spikes forming parts of a tool or natural object. [1] They are used to spear, hook, move or otherwise act on other objects. They may be made of metal, wood, bone or other hard, strong materials.

The number of tines on tools varies widely a pitchfork may have just two, a garden fork may have four, and a rake or harrow many. Tines may be blunt, such as those on a fork used as an eating utensil; or sharp, as on a pitchfork; or even barbed, as on a trident. The terms tine and prong are mostly interchangeable. A tooth of a comb is a tine. The term is also used on musical instruments such as the Jew's harp, tuning fork, guitaret, electric piano, music box or mbira which contain long protruding metal spikes ("tines") which are plucked to produce notes.

Tines and prongs occur in nature—for example, forming the branched bony antlers of deer or the forked horns of pronghorn antelopes. The term tine is also used for mountains, such as the fictional Silvertine in The Lord of the Rings .

In chaos theory (physics, non-linear dynamics), the branches of a bifurcation diagram are called tines and subtines.

Related Research Articles

Tuning fork Device that generates sounds of constant pitch when struck

A tuning fork is an acoustic resonator in the form of a two-pronged fork with the prongs (tines) formed from a U-shaped bar of elastic metal. It resonates at a specific constant pitch when set vibrating by striking it against a surface or with an object, and emits a pure musical tone once the high overtones fade out. A tuning fork's pitch depends on the length and mass of the two prongs. They are traditional sources of standard pitch for tuning musical instruments.

Fork Utensil to spear food

In cutlery or kitchenware, a fork is a utensil, now usually made of metal, whose long handle terminates in a head that branches into several narrow and often slightly curved tines with which one can spear foods either to hold them to cut with a knife or to lift them to the mouth.

Impossible trident 2D drawing of impossible 3D object

An impossible trident, also known as an impossible fork, blivet, poiuyt, or devil's tuning fork, is a drawing of an impossible object, a kind of an optical illusion. It appears to have three cylindrical prongs at one end which then mysteriously transform into two rectangular prongs at the other end.

Circular definition Self-referential description of meaning

A circular definition is a description that uses the term(s) being defined as part of the description or assumes that the term(s) being described are already known. There are several kinds of circular definition, and several ways of characterising the term: pragmatic, lexicographic and linguistic.

Spork Item of cutlery in the form of a spoon with fork tines

A spork is a hybrid form of cutlery taking the form of a spoon-like shallow scoop with two to four fork-like tines. Spork-like utensils, such as the terrapin fork or ice cream fork, have been manufactured since the late 19th century; patents for spork-like designs date back to at least 1874. Sporks are commonly used by fast food restaurants, schools, prisons, militaries, backpackers, and airlines.

A fork is a utensil for eating and cooking.

Spade Digging tool

A spade is a tool primarily for digging comprising a blade – typically curved and more pointed than that of a common shovel – and a long handle. Early spades were made of riven wood or of animal bones. After the art of metalworking was developed, spades were made with sharper tips of metal. Before the introduction of metal spades manual labor was less efficient at moving earth, with picks being required to break up the soil in addition to a spade for moving the dirt. With a metal tip, a spade can both break and move the earth in most situations, increasing efficiency. A classic spade, with a narrow body and flat tip is suited for digging post holes, and is not to be confused with a "roundpoint" shovel, which has a wider body and tapered tip.

Hoe (tool) Agricultural tool

A hoe is an ancient and versatile agricultural and horticultural hand tool used to shape soil, remove weeds, clear soil, and harvest root crops. Shaping the soil includes piling soil around the base of plants (hilling), digging narrow furrows (drills) and shallow trenches for planting seeds or bulbs. Weeding with a hoe includes agitating the surface of the soil or cutting foliage from roots, and clearing the soil of old roots and crop residues. Hoes for digging and moving soil are used to harvest root crops such as potatoes.


A lucet is a tool used in cordmaking or braiding which is believed to date back to the Viking and Medieval periods, when it was used to create cords that were used on clothing, or to hang items from the belt. Lucet cord is square, strong, and slightly springy. It closely resembles knitted I-cord or the cord produced on a knitting spool. Lucet cord is formed by a series of loop like knots, and therefore will not unravel if cut. Unlike other braiding techniques such as kumihimo, finger-loop braiding or plaiting, where the threads are of a finite length, lucetted braids can be created without pre-measuring threads and so it is a technique suited for very long cords.

Pitchfork Agricultural tool

A pitchfork is an agricultural tool with a long handle and two to five tines used to lift and pitch or throw loose material, such as hay, straw, manure, or leaves.

Military fork Type of pole weapon

A military fork is a pole weapon which was used in Europe between the 15th and 19th centuries. Like many polearms, the military fork traces its lineage to an agricultural tool, in this case the pitchfork. Unlike a trident used for fishing, the military fork was rarely barbed and normally consisted only of two tines (prongs) which were straight compared to the original pitchfork. The pair of tines usually ran parallel or slightly flared. This weapon was relatively easy to use compared to a sword, which could take years to learn how to wield effectively. It was usually used in absence of a spear. Like a spear, the military fork could be used in tight formations and was often made with various minor customizations to improve use; in the example of the image above, the fork has a hook parallel to the prongs intended to "catch" the blow of a weapon, as well as two "hooks" intended to dismount a knight from his horse.

Garden fork Garden tool with tines

A garden fork, spading fork, or digging fork is a gardening implement, with a handle and a square-shouldered head featuring several short, sturdy tines. It is used for loosening, lifting and turning over soil in gardening and farming, and not to be confused with the pitchfork, a similar tined tool used for moving loose materials such as hay, straw, silage, and manure.

Pickaxe Tool

A pickaxe, pick-axe, or pick is a generally T-shaped hand tool used for prying. Its head is typically metal, attached perpendicularly to a longer handle, traditionally made of wood, occasionally metal, and increasingly fiberglass.

Clam digging

Clam digging is a North American term for a common way to harvest clams from below the surface of the tidal sand flats or mud flats where they live. It is done both recreationally and commercially. Commercial digging in the U.S. and Canada is colloquially referred to as clamming, and is done by a clammer.

Grapple (tool)

A grapple is a hook or claw used to catch or hold something. A ship's anchor is a type of grapple, especially the "grapnel" anchor.

Split pin Metal fastener with two tines that are bent during installation

A split pin, also known in the United States of America as a cotter pin or cotter key, is a metal fastener with two tines that are bent during installation, similar to a staple or rivet. Typically made of thick wire with a half-circular cross section, split pins come in multiple sizes and types.

Bezel (jewellery)

A bezel is a wider and usually thicker section of the hoop of a ring, which may contain a gem or a flat surface. Rings are normally worn to display bezels on the upper or outer side of the finger. In gem-cutting the term bezel is used for those sloping facets of a cut stone that surround the flat table face, which is the large, horizontal facet on the top.

Prong or Prongs may refer to:

Bident Two-pronged implement resembling a pitchfork

A bident is a two-pronged implement resembling a pitchfork. In greek mythology, the bident is a weapon associated with Hades (Pluto), the ruler of the underworld.

An officer’s tool is a forcible entry device used by firefighters and other first responders. Officer’s tools are designed to completely remove cylindrical locks from doors without causing major structural damage, allowing for direct access to the internal locking mechanism.


  1. "Tine, n. 1" . Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)