Stick a fork in it

The idiom stick a fork in it has been in use since the mid-twentieth century. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase, or phrasal verbs that have a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. These figures of speech or literary devices often use descriptive imagery; common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often colloquialisms or descriptors that are spoken or are considered informal or conversational. An idiom may be a euphemism, an understatement or exaggeration, or an expression of irony or hyperbole. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase or expression that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions that native speakers understand such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, chin up, eye to eye, barking up the wrong tree, bite the bullet, red herring, hit the nail on the head, kick the bucket, blow off steam, jump on the bandwagon, piece of cake, hit the sack, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. It is possible to memorize a list of idioms, but it may be easier to pay attention to the use of idioms in everyday speech, where peculiar imagery will tell you that the expressions should not be taken literally. We will examine the meaning of the idiomatic phrase stick a fork in it, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

Stick a fork in it is a commentary that something is finished, over, completed, or can go no further. Other iterations are stick a fork in me, stick a fork in her, etc. The idiom stick a fork in it is an abbreviation of the phrase, stick a fork in it, it’s done. The idiom is a play on the word done, which may mean finished or may mean a piece of meat is thoroughly cooked. The idiom stick a fork in it is derived from the practice of sticking a fork into a piece of meat to test whether it is thoroughly cooked. The earliest known use of the expression stick a fork in it was by Dizzy Dean, an American baseball player and commentator, in the 1940s when referring to a pitcher who was doing a poor job: “You can stick a fork in him folks—he’s done.”


“The general consensus is you can stick a fork in it,” Clarke said. (The Augusta Chronicle)

“I’ve learned many times to never say, ‘Stick a fork in it! Winter is done!’” meteorologist Bri Eggers said. (The Idaho Press-Tribune)

For its fourth trip into the Toy Story sandbox, Disney has decided to stick a fork in it. (The Globe and Mail)

CityBike is done, too done to bother with the vacuous “stick a fork in me” idiot-oms that pass for “writing” in an alarming number of so-called publications in this modern age of empty-headed echo-chamberism. (CityBike Magazine)

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