A pitchfork is an agricultural tool with a long handle and long, thick, widely separated pointed tynes used to lift and pitch or throw loose material, such as hay, straw or leaves. True pitchforks typically have only two or three tines, while manure forks have four or more tines. However, some forks with more than three tines are also used for handling loose material such as hay or silage. Other types of fork even up to ten tines with different lengths and spacing depending on purpose. They are usually made of steel with a long wooden handle, but may also be made from wood, wrought iron, bamboo, alloy, etc. In some parts of England a pitchfork is known as a prong and, in parts of Ireland, a sprong refers to a 4-pronged pitchfork. The pitchfork is similar to the shorter and sturdier garden fork.
Pitchforks and scythes have frequently been used as weapons by those who couldn't afford or didn't have access to more expensive weapons such as swords, or, later, guns. As a result, pitchforks and scythes are stereotypically carried by angry mobs or gangs of enraged peasants.
In Europe, the pitchfork was first used in the early Middle Ages, at about the same time as the harrow. The pitchfork was originally made entirely of wood; today, the tines are usually made of hard metal.