A needle and a fork... prick?? poke??

Rivendell

Senior Member
Spanish / Spain
Hi!!

My question is: what's the right verb to use with a needle?? For example, if a little child has a needle in his hands, what would you say??

- "Be careful, you can get pricked / poked!!"
- "Be careful, needles prick / poke!"

Regarding the fork, what would you say??

- "Prick / poke the meat on the plate with the fork!!"
- "Be careful with the fork, you can get pricked / poked!!"

Are there any more suitable options??

Regards.
 
  • Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think prick implies breaking the skin, while poke definitely doesn't. This means I'd say prick with a needle and poke with a fork, unless it was very sharp and fine.

    As for meat on a plate, with a fork one can pierce it, spear it, poke it, prick it, spike it, amongst other things.
     

    sam's mum

    Senior Member
    England English
    The trouble with prick is that it has unhelpful sexual connotations. With a needle, I'd probably say, be careful, you'll stab yourself. For a fork, I'd probably say just use your fork (properly)!
     

    Rivendell

    Senior Member
    Spanish / Spain
    I thought "stab" was used for a knife or a dagger... can you actually use it for a needle??

    And does it really sound weird to use "prick" in non-sexual contexts??
     

    xebonyx

    Senior Member
    TR/AR/EN
    I disagree Sam--maybe that's more common of a connotation in the UK?

    I've always heard "You may prick your finger". Stab is too strong of a word here, I'd use it with "knife" ; or something that can result in great injury or lead to your death.
     

    Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    Many jokes are made based on the double meaning of prick (an example of which I had better spare you), but it is perfectly alright to say you have pricked yourself with a needle, and a doctor may tell you "You may feel a slight prick" without provoking salacious sniggers.
    Since poke normally implies lack of penetration (the sergeant poked me in the ribs with his swagger stick), I would rather stick my fork in(to) a piece of meat or, slightly more violent, stab it with a fork.
    In US English, but also acceptable in BE, I recall a relevant verse from the old pseudo-hillbilly song, "Life gets tejus(tedious), don't(doesn't) it?":
    The old grey mule, he must be sick./ I stabbed him in the ribs with a a pin on a stick./ He arched his back but he wouldn't kick: /There's somethin' durn cock-eyed somewhere!
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I'd say "be careful, you might prick yourself".

    When I focus on the word, as I'm doing now, then I do see the connotations sam's mum mentioned. But in practice, and in context, "prick yourself"/"prick your finger" would be absolutely fine.
     

    sam's mum

    Senior Member
    England English
    Being the only female in a household with 3 males of various ages I wouldn't dream of using the word prick in this context. Even the supposedly mature, educated, middle-aged one would snigger. I've worked with men most of my professional life and I think it would be the same there, but they might try to hide their reactions better. Even poke can be a bit dangerous with its lesser sexual connotations. (Although the idiom better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick is often used quite safely) Perhaps it's a gender thing, or I've had the misfortune to be in contact with a particularly puerile bunch!
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Having been the only male in a household with four females at one time, I feel free to use the word prick without fear of inappropriate puerile sniggering. It's certainly the word I would use with pins and needles in relation to fingers.

    An entirely unselfconscious nurse took blood from WMPG's arm a couple of weeks ago. "Don't worry," she said, "you'll just feel a little prick."
    I remember the statement very clearly not because of the potential misunderstanding but for the melodramatic performance that followed and the oft-repeated replay of the statement as WMPG complained indignantly about having been so grievously misled.
     

    Rivendell

    Senior Member
    Spanish / Spain
    Thanks for your replies, which make me draw two conclusions:
    - Being almost the only female in my office, I'll try to be very careful when using prick and therefore, I'll try to avoid needles and pins. ;)


    - However, when I'm home I'll feel free to say "I only felt a little prick in my arm" or "be careful, you might prick yourself!" or "poke the fork into that piece of meat", because those are the correct terms and no one will look at me while suppressing a giggle. :)
     

    sam's mum

    Senior Member
    England English
    I got distracted by prick and forgot to mention that if someone told me to poke a piece of meat on my plate with a fork, I would assume that they were suggesting that I should do this to see if it was still alive!
     
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