- to stop, as at an obstacle, and refuse to proceed or to do something specified (usually followed by at): He balked at making the speech.
- (of a horse, mule, etc.) to stop short and stubbornly refuse to go on.
- Baseball. to commit a balk.
- to place an obstacle in the way of; hinder; thwart: a sudden reversal that balked her hopes.
- Archaic. to let slip; fail to use: to balk an opportunity.
- a check or hindrance; defeat; disappointment.
- a strip of land left unplowed.
- a crossbeam in the roof of a house that unites and supports the rafters; tie beam.
- any heavy timber used for building purposes.
- Baseball. an illegal motion by a pitcher while one or more runners are on base, as a pitch in which there is either an insufficient or too long a pause after the windup or stretch, a pretended throw to first or third base or to the batter with one foot on the pitcher's rubber, etc., resulting in a penalty advancing the runner or runners one base.
- Billiards. any of the eight panels or compartments lying between the cushions of the table and the balklines.
- Obsolete. a miss, slip, or failure: to make a balk.
- in balk, inside any of the spaces in back of the balklines on a billiard table.
Origin of balk
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for balked
If I balked at an act or found it difficult to perform, I was “punished” for my defiance (which is the nature of a BDSM scene).My ‘Kink’ Nightmare: James Franco’s BDSM Porn Documentary ‘Kink’ Only Tells Part of the Story
August 30, 2014
Gerawan consented, but after a few months at the table, UFW balked again.A Crazy California Union Scandal
August 2, 2014
When Hayes balked at giving up her child, she claims Romney threatened she could be excommunicated if she refused.Why Is the Mormon Church Getting Out of the Adoption Business?
June 23, 2014
Obama administration officials wanted the BSA signed by the end of last year, but Karzai has balked.Karzai Gambles with the Taliban
January 28, 2014
A Supreme Court decision was met, and balked, with utter defiance.Alex Haley’s 1965 Playboy Interview with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
January 19, 2014
So far I have not balked at anything but he has had the consideration not to direct me to the mountains.Her Father's Daughter
The men that have solved greater problems in the past will not be balked by these.The Call of the Twentieth Century
David Starr Jordan
Duerot has tried his hardest to sup in Lagny, and has been balked by German valour.Camps, Quarters and Casual Places
Well, gentlemen, you are balked this time; but what matters it?Homeward Bound
James Fenimore Cooper
Hugh Ritson was hardly the man to be balked by such impediments.A Son of Hagar
Sir Hall Caine
- (intr usually foll by at) to stop short, esp suddenly or unexpectedly; jibthe horse balked at the jump
- (intr foll by at) to turn away abruptly; recoilhe balked at the idea of murder
- (tr) to thwart, check, disappoint, or foilhe was balked in his plans
- (tr) to avoid deliberatelyhe balked the question
- (tr) to miss unintentionally
- a roughly squared heavy timber beam
- a timber tie beam of a roof
- an unploughed ridge to prevent soil erosion or mark a division on common land
- an obstacle; hindrance; disappointment
- baseball an illegal motion by a pitcher towards the plate or towards the base when there are runners on base, esp without delivering the ball
Word Origin and History for balked
Old English balca "ridge, bank," from or influenced by Old Norse balkr "ridge of land," especially between two plowed furrows, both from Proto-Germanic *balkan-, *belkan- (cf. Old Saxon balko, Danish bjelke, Old Frisian balka, Old High German balcho, German Balken "beam, rafter"), from PIE *bhelg- "beam, plank" (cf. Latin fulcire "to prop up, support," fulcrum "bedpost;" Lithuanian balziena "cross-bar;" and possibly Greek phalanx "trunk, log, line of battle"). Modern senses are figurative, representing the balk as a hindrance or obstruction (see balk (v.)). Baseball sense is first attested 1845.
late 14c., "to leave an unplowed ridge when plowing," from balk (n.). Extended meaning "to omit, intentionally neglect" is mid-15c. Most modern senses are figurative, from the notion of a balk in the fields as a hindrance or obstruction: sense of "stop short" (as a horse confronted with an obstacle) is late 15c.; that of "to refuse" is 1580s. Related: Balked; balking.