Cutlery refers to any hand utensil used in preparing, serving, and especially eating food. It is more usually known as silverware or flatware in the United States, where cutlery can have the more specific meaning of knives and other cutting instruments. This is probably the original meaning of the word. Since silverware suggests the presence of silver, the term tableware has come into use.
The major items of cutlery in the Western world are the knife, fork and spoon. Traditionally, good quality cutlery was made from silver (hence the U.S. name), though steel was always used for more utilitarian knives, and pewter was used for some cheaper items, especially spoons. From the nineteenth century, Electroplated Nickel Silver (EPNS) was used as a cheaper substitute; nowadays, most cutlery, including quality designs, is made from stainless steel. Plastic cutlery is made for disposable use, and is frequently used in fast food or take-away outlets and provided with airline meals.
Two forms of utensil combining the functionality of various pairs of cutlery are the spork (spoon / fork) and knork (knife / fork).