Green’s Dictionary of Slang

fork n.1

1. a spendthrift, a wastrel.

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Fork is often Rakes Heir, or after a scraping Father comes a scattering Son.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. n.p.: A fork is also used for a Spendthrift.

2. (UK Und.; 1940s US) a pickpocket.

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew.
[UK]A. Smith Lives of Most Notorious Highway-men, etc. (1926) 206: Fork, a pickpocket.
[UK]New Canting Dict.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum.
[Aus]Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 30: Fork, a pickpocket.
[US]R.H. Rovere Howe & Hummel 42: Howe was very proud of his younger partner’s ability as a fork. ‘Don’t you think it’s strange?’ he once asked his Boswell on the Herald. ‘Abie and I [. . . .] place our bets together and stay together most of the afternoon. Yet often, on the way back, I have no money at all and Abie has a thick roll. Honestly, sir, I don’t know how he does it’.

3. (orig. UK; US black) usu. in pl., the fingers, esp. the middle and forefingers.

[Aus]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 242: forks the two fore-fingers of the hand; to put your forks down, is to pick a pocket.
[Scot]D. Haggart Autobiog. 12: The keek cloy is easily picked. If the notes are in the long fold, just tip them the forks; but if there is a purse or open money in the case, you must link it.
[UK]W.T. Moncrieff Heart of London II i: Such fine forks as you have for frisking a cly.
Tait’s Edinburgh Mag. VIII 220: My forks were light and fly, and lightly faked away [F&H].
[UK]G.W.M. Reynolds Mysteries of London vol. 2 142: Forks Fingers.
[US]Ladies’ Repository (N.Y.) Oct. VIII:37 316/1: Forks, fingers.
[UK]Kendal Mercury 17 Apr. 6/1: For cleaning out clys his forks they vas made.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
Criminal Life (Boston) 19 Dec. n.p.: Morse [...] is afflicted by nature, with elongated forks, which have an inclination to insert themselves into everthing [sic] accessible, from a pocket to a till.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 118/2: I instantly drew out my ‘forks,’ and in doing so got entangled in the fringe of her shawl.
[UK]Sl. Dict. 168: Forks, or grappling irons fingers. Costermongers and other clumsy feeders have a proverb which seems to justify their taking bones and choice morsels in their hands during the progress of a meal. It is, ‘Fingers were the first forks;’ sometimes varied to ‘Fingers were made before forks.’.
[US]Trumble Sl. Dict. (1890).
[UK]Newcastle Courant 2 Sept. 6/5: He dropped his forks into the pockets of his fellow travellers.
[Aus]Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 30: Forks, the hands (pugilistic).
[UK]C. Whibley ‘The Switcher’ A Book of Scoundrels 210: ‘My forks,’ he boasted, ‘are equally long, and they never fail me.’.
[US]N.Y. Times 23 Sept. in Fleming Unforgettable Season (1981) 242: Leaving you with your dexter fork extended in the air.
[UK]Thieves Slang ms list from District Police Training Centre, Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Warwicks 4: Forks: Fingers.
[UK]F.D. Sharpe Sharpe of the Flying Squad 330: forks : Fingers.
[US] ‘Jiver’s Bible’ in D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive.
[UK]F. Norman in Sun. Graphic 23 Nov. in Norman’s London (1969) 39: He might therefore stick his fork into some unsuspecting guest’s outer.
[UK]D. Powis Signs of Crime 184: Forks Fingers.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak.
[US]Eble Sl. and Sociability 81: Metaphors include forks ‘fingers’ lemon ‘light-skinned black woman’ and piano ‘section of spare ribs’.

4. usu. in pl., the hands.

[UK] ‘The Honour of the Family’ Town Talk 10 July 111: Nothing’s too hot or heavy for those forks of yours to carry.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum.
Licensed Victuallers’ Gazette 9 Feb. n.p.: Up they came briskly with shining mugs, shook hands, then stepped back a pace or two, put up their forks, and the spectators were hushed into silence, for they saw the battle was about to begin [F&H].
[UK]Binstead & Wells A Pink ’Un and a Pelican 179: You kin git yer forks in on Mr Berkeley Seymour proper.
[UK]G. Kersh They Die with Their Boots Clean 122: I can use me forks a bit, but nothing like ole Bullock.
[UK]‘Charles Raven’ Und. Nights 168: I read the story through then stuck the linen in Andy’s fork.
[UK] in G. Tremlett Little Legs 194: fork hand.

5. the crotch; thus ext. as the penis.

[UK] ‘Fat Bacon’ in Luscious Songster 5: He pulled out his fork, and he tipt her some pork.
[UK]Swell’s Night Guide 35: Many of the French importations [...] attract hither many of the French cruizers stationed on the coast of St. James, Regent-street. [...] Though the swell snob, who is always up to his fork in leather, has measured most of these ‘polley wooes,’ as he classically terms them, he says you can hardly tell the difference, in the dark, between the French kid and the good English calf.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 490: (He sticks out a flickering phosphorescent serpent tongue, his hand on his fork.).
[UK]J. Curtis Look Long Upon a Monkey 191: Stringy hit the deck, curling into a ball, his head tucked on his chest, elbows close to his sides, wrists crossed in front of his fork.
[Ire]P. Boyle All Looks Yellow to the Jaundiced Eye 58: There are sounds coming from his open mouth that could very well come from from someone after getting a woeful kick in the fork.
[Aus]Tupper & Wortley Aus. Prison Sl. Gloss. 🌐 Fork. The crotch.
[Ire](con. 1960s) B. Quinn Smokey Hollow 162: They’d catch up on girl cyclists wearing slacks and yell ‘emptyfork’ and the girls would screech back ‘Take more than youse to fill it’.
posting at 10 July 🌐 My next ‘Oook’ will be followed by a kick in the fork!
[Aus]P. Temple Truth 353: He took the steps, and he kicked the man in his fork, it was not worth it.

6. (Aus.) a jockey.

[Aus]R. McDonald Rough Wallaby 210: A jockey was a ‘fork’, his whip a ‘flute’.

In phrases

hawk one’s fork (v.)

(Aus.) to work as a prostitute; the ‘fork’ is the juncture of the legs and thus the vagina.

[Aus]D. Ireland Burn 5: Mary might have hawked the fork when I was away.
[Aus]D. Ireland Glass Canoe (1982) 74: Later she hawked the fork, but she still wanted to be in love with me.
[Aus]R.G. Barratt ‘Sleaze Stays When the Party’s Over’ in What Do You Reckon (1997) [ebook] [S]ome moll is propped in a doorway hawking her fork.
[UK]K. Lette Llama Parlour 106: Well, I’ll just go and hawk my fork down on Hollywood Boulevard.
[Aus]G. Seal Lingo 49: Baker presents a breathtaking variety of historical and contemporary argot of convicts, wizzers, traps, wallopers, hardheads, con artists, prostitutes (those who hawk the fork), [...] and assorted thieves.