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-   -   How widespread is "tine"? (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=826066)

Hari Seldon 05-12-2017 04:15 PM

How widespread is "tine"?
 
Today, two English speaking Canadians (one from Montreal, one from Toronto) astonished me by never having heard the word "tine". I won't say it is the commonest word in my ideolect, but both my wife (from NYC) and I (from Philly) are certainly familiar with it. So I am curious now. Is it used, say, in Idaho? Across the pond. And it you don't use it, what do you call the tines of a fork? Prongs, maybe?

blueslipper 05-12-2017 04:26 PM

I know that it's called a tine. But only as a trivia answer. Doesn't come up in conversation.

ftg 05-12-2017 04:30 PM

Quite common, IME.

Mrs. FtG watches a lot of cooking shows and I know many of them use the term, e.g., Alton Brown. Nothing regional or specialized about it.

I've known it from a quite young age. You learn about forks, you learn about tines.

Atamasama 05-12-2017 04:33 PM

My tines be long
My tines be short
My tines end ere their first report

(A riddle.)

I think "prong" is probably more common, such as a "multi-pronged approach" and an electrical plug is described as having prongs. But I'm definitely familiar with it, since childhood. I was also that kid who liked reading a lot.

Darren Garrison 05-12-2017 04:33 PM

If a couple of minutes ago you held up a fork to me and asked me what the little pointy things are called, I may or may not have stumbled trying to come up with it, but when I saw the word "tine" I automatically interpreted it to be the pointy bits on a fork. So the word is in my vocabulary, but not my active one.

Atamasama 05-12-2017 04:36 PM

I'll add, "tine" dates back to the 12th century per Merriam-Webster while "prong" goes back to the 15th so "tine" is centuries older, if that helps.

CurtC 05-12-2017 04:44 PM

In Texas - common enough that pretty much everyone knows what it means, would be my guess. Way more common that "aglet."

md2000 05-12-2017 04:45 PM

Tine is either the pointy bits of a fort, or the pointy bits of a pitchfork. It's just not a real conversation hog... sort of like... bezel or chamfer, or cotter pin or nit or zygote.

pulykamell 05-12-2017 04:46 PM

I've used and heard it in conversation, and for forks, it's a "tine." I'm not sure I would call them "prongs" for whatever reason--it's just a fixed phrase in my head, I guess. "Prongs" I think of as bigger, somehow. I realize the definitions are basically synonymous in this context, but that's how my mind thinks of them.

RobDog 05-12-2017 04:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hari Seldon (Post 20203339)
... Across the pond ...

Across the pond, one should know what a tine is, and that a fish fork has three of them, otherwise one would be identified as an irredeemable oik who would probably drink from the finger bowl and use ghastly words such as "toilet" and "serviette".

Slightly more seriously, "tine" is probably fairly well understood by the middle classes and upwards, and by crossword fans.

Baron Greenback 05-12-2017 04:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hari Seldon (Post 20203339)
Today, two English speaking Canadians (one from Montreal, one from Toronto) astonished me by never having heard the word "tine". I won't say it is the commonest word in my ideolect, but both my wife (from NYC) and I (from Philly) are certainly familiar with it. So I am curious now. Is it used, say, in Idaho? Across the pond.

In the glens, when night falls and the mist rolls in, we speak of little else.

Shagnasty 05-12-2017 05:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Atamasama (Post 20203387)
I'll add, "tine" dates back to the 12th century per Merriam-Webster while "prong" goes back to the 15th so "tine" is centuries older, if that helps.

Oh, so that is what the youngsters call them now.

I am from the Deep South and live in New England. I know what tines are and almost always have to the best of my memory. I think most Americans do. What else are you going to call them should the rare need arise? Those pointy sticks of metal? Canadian and American English aren't that different. The OP probably just ran across some Canadians with a less than stellar English vocabulary.

Leaffan 05-12-2017 05:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Shagnasty (Post 20203446)
Oh, so that is what the youngsters call them now.

I am from the Deep South and live in New England. I know what tines are and almost always have to the best of my memory. I think most Americans do. What else are you going to call them should the rare need arise? Those pointy sticks of metal? Canadian and American English aren't that different. The OP probably just ran across some Canadians with a less than stellar English vocabulary.

This Canadian agrees. Tine is, or should be, common enough in any English dialect.

Sent from my XT1635-02 using Tapatalk

Fubaya 05-12-2017 05:21 PM

Some farm equipment have tines so I'd say it's a fairly common term

Ornery Bob 05-12-2017 05:43 PM

In the silver set we had when I was growing up, the salad forks had three tines and dinner forks had four and one must understand this. Otherwise, one would do a poor job of setting the table and mother would not be pleased.

Seems like parents hardly teach manners these days, let alone the finer points of table settings.

Now get off my lawn, you kids!

jnglmassiv 05-12-2017 05:59 PM

We have a restaurant called Knife and/& Time here in Chicago. I haven't been to it, though.

http://www.knifeandtine.com/

Barbarian 05-12-2017 06:34 PM

As a Canadian born in Toronto and raised in Montreal I certainly know what a tine is, but I suspect I could find several dunces who wouldn't know the word.

John Mace 05-12-2017 07:10 PM

They never heard that Jimi Croce song: If I could put tine in a bottle...

Channing Idaho Banks 05-12-2017 07:27 PM

In my experience, tines are usually parallel and not widespread, at all.

yabob 05-12-2017 08:15 PM

Does the river Tyne have a fork in it?

HipGnosis 05-12-2017 09:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by yabob (Post 20203713)
Does the river Tyne have a fork in it?

Now that right there is the fundamental crux of a good riddle!
But it would have to be spoken, not written.

Atamasama 05-12-2017 09:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by John Mace (Post 20203637)
They never heard that Jimi Croce song: If I could put tine in a bottle...

Have you had a Scarborough Fork?

Parsley, sage, and rosemary on tines...

PatrickLondon 05-13-2017 01:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by yabob (Post 20203713)
Does the river Tyne have a fork in it?

Can a tine have a fork? Does a toe have a foot?

Mangetout 05-13-2017 04:56 AM

Common in UK English (much more likely to be readily understood than aglet)

Spoons 05-13-2017 05:10 AM

I'm from Toronto originally. I know what a tine is, as did my friends there.

IvoryTowerDenizen 05-13-2017 06:20 AM

It's a common word to me. Don't have much cause to use it in casual conversation, but it's not obscure.

Isilder 05-13-2017 06:44 AM

Tine is also used for the forks on a forklift , and the verticals of a ladder.

Lord Feldon 05-13-2017 07:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Darren Garrison (Post 20203377)
If a couple of minutes ago you held up a fork to me and asked me what the little pointy things are called, I may or may not have stumbled trying to come up with it, but when I saw the word "tine" I automatically interpreted it to be the pointy bits on a fork. So the word is in my vocabulary, but not my active one.

The same for me. I don't think I've ever actually heard someone say the word.

DesertDog 05-13-2017 07:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Channing Idaho Banks (Post 20203656)
In my experience, tines are usually parallel and not widespread, at all.

Sez you. (It's Victorian, of course.)

Bones Daley 05-13-2017 07:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Isilder (Post 20204241)
Tine is also used for the forks on a forklift , and the verticals of a ladder.

Huh ? I have never heard the verticals of a ladder referred to as anything other than the stiles ... and the steps you stand on are called the rungs

"Stiles" is probably as obscure to the average person in the street as "tines" , but I think most people would be familiar with "rungs".

spifflog 05-13-2017 07:25 AM

While I don't use "tine" very often at all, I do use it more than "commonest."

obfusciatrist 05-13-2017 07:30 AM

It is the only word I can think of for "what would you call the pointy extensions on a fork." But I don't think I've ever heard it used for anything else.

(Grew up in Washington and spent whole life there, HI, or CA.)

don't ask 05-13-2017 07:33 AM

It is certainly far more commonly used than ideolect. It is even found in Google 200 times more often than idiolect.

kayaker 05-13-2017 07:39 AM

Common term IME. I know I've yelled, "Who the fuck left this here tines up?" regarding a pitchfork in the barn.

John Mace 05-13-2017 07:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bones Daley (Post 20204273)
Huh ? I have never heard the verticals of a ladder referred to as anything other than the stiles ... and the steps you stand on are called the rungs

"Stiles" is probably as obscure to the average person in the street as "tines" , but I think most people would be familiar with "rungs".

Which styles of cabinets do not have stiles?

Bones Daley 05-13-2017 07:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by John Mace (Post 20204305)
Which styles of cabinets do not have stiles?

cabinets with flush (non-panelled ) doors.

pulykamell 05-13-2017 07:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bones Daley (Post 20204273)
Huh ? I have never heard the verticals of a ladder referred to as anything other than the stiles ... and the steps you stand on are called the rungs

"Stiles" is probably as obscure to the average person in the street as "tines" , but I think most people would be familiar with "rungs".

Yeah, I couldn't have told you they were called "stiles." Not sure I know that word, but I am very familiar with "tines" (and, of course, "rungs.")

Hari Seldon 05-13-2017 08:23 AM

Interesting. The one from Toronto (pronounced Tranah, BTW) has a PhD in math and is a coauthor of several of my papers, so not exactly a country hick. The other one informant was not highly educated, but still seems intelligent enough.

I did know the word "stile", but only in connection with barrier to keep livestock, but not people, out. And of course, there is "turnstile", obviously related.

Leaving a rake tines up is a real no-no.

I Love Me, Vol. I 05-13-2017 08:37 AM

The word tine doesn't only refer to the prongs of a table fork. Tine is also what the individual sound producing elements of an electric piano are called. This usage is similar to table fork tines as electric pianos have tuning forks and the tine is part of that. But you don't call the piano part a "prong"

AHunter3 05-13-2017 10:21 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Darren Garrison (Post 20203377)
If a couple of minutes ago you held up a fork to me and asked me what the little pointy things are called, I may or may not have stumbled trying to come up with it, but when I saw the word "tine" I automatically interpreted it to be the pointy bits on a fork. So the word is in my vocabulary, but not my active one.

Interestingly, I had the exact opposite experience. I read the thread title and went :confused: "WTF is 'tine'?" Then read the OP and went :smack: "oh, as in on a fork!"

Amateur Barbarian 05-13-2017 11:09 AM

My question is - when do you EVER need to refer to the pointy operating parts of a fork, anyway? Except perhaps in the sole instance of "Don't put that fork on the table. It has a bent tine."

Siam Sam 05-13-2017 11:11 AM

Just a matter of tine.

I have known the word since my younger days.

Shagnasty 05-13-2017 11:22 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Amateur Barbarian (Post 20204626)
My question is - when do you EVER need to refer to the pointy operating parts of a fork, anyway? Except perhaps in the sole instance of "Don't put that fork on the table. It has a bent tine."

Well, there was the Cyndi Lauper hit "Tine After Tine" that I am quite fond of.

Procrustus 05-13-2017 11:26 AM

Does anyone really know what tine is?
Does anyone really care?

As for me, I'm sure I've seen the word, but the thread title didn't jog my memory. I had to read a bit to figure it out.

Thudlow Boink 05-13-2017 11:40 AM

Didn't anyone watch Cagney & Lacey or Judging Amy? Those shows used "tine" daily.

Nava 05-13-2017 11:51 AM

Don't ask me when or where I learned that word, but I did know it.

And I knew rungs and risers, but in this thread I've learned stiles.

PatrickLondon 05-13-2017 12:05 PM

I know "stiles" as the steps that allow people to climb over a fence across a footpath while preventing animals from getting out.

Shagnasty 05-13-2017 12:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by PatrickLondon (Post 20204754)
I know "stiles" as the steps that allow people to climb over a fence across a footpath while preventing animals from getting out.

The more common term is turnstile and almost everyone knows that. Those are the barriers that you can walk through one way but not the other like at a subway station. Therefore, it is easy to figure out the more simple version of one.

The thing I find most remarkable is that Americans, Canadians, English, Irish and Australians still speak the same language with only a few exceptions (we will leave the Scottish and Brooklynites out of this for now). Despite hundreds of years of separation, the vast majority of it would be perfectly mutually intelligible if the rest of them just learned to talk right.

Leaffan 05-13-2017 03:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Shagnasty (Post 20204836)
....
The thing I find most remarkable is that Americans, Canadians, English, Irish and Australians still speak the same language with only a few exceptions (we will leave the Scottish and Brooklynites out of this for now). Despite hundreds of years of separation, the vast majority of it would be perfectly mutually intelligible if the rest of them just learned to talk right.

I've often given that some thought, especially reading posts here.

Also, watching an Australian TV show (Bondi Vet) a lot of the same colloquialisms are completely shared with North American English. How did that happen?

(Although they sure do say "mate" an awful lot!)

I'm from Scotland originally. Although the accent can be thick (and they certainly can informally write in the same accent) formal writing - judged even by our Scottish posters here - is indistinct from any other English language poster.


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Arrendajo 05-13-2017 03:56 PM

Pretty common word, IMO.
On a side note, I recently visited a proctologist for an exam. He pulled a dinner fork from the instrument tray and told me to bend over. I expressed some reservations about him using a fork, but he assured me he had done it for years. He said "These are the tines that pry men's holes."


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