balk

or baulk

[bawk]
|||

verb (used without object)

verb (used with object)

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.

noun


Idioms

    in balk, inside any of the spaces in back of the balklines on a billiard table.

Origin of balk

before 900; Middle English; Old English balca covering, beam, ridge; cognate with Old Norse bǫlkr bar, partition, Dutch balk, Old Saxon balko, German Balken, Old Norse bjalki beam, Old English bolca plank; perhaps akin to Latin sufflāmen, Slovene blazína, Lithuanian balžíenas beam. See balcony
Related formsbalk·er, nounbalk·ing·ly, adverbun·balked, adjectiveun·balk·ing, adjectiveun·balk·ing·ly, adverb

Synonyms for balk

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019


Examples from the Web for balk

Contemporary Examples of balk

Historical Examples of balk

  • It seemed that nothing could balk her ambition in that direction.

  • This was her first intimation that Republicans might balk at enfranchising women.

  • He says that half of it is mine, but he may balk on taking charge.

    David Lannarck, Midget

    George S. Harney

  • Grace and Cora almost collided in their attempt to balk Nancy.

    A Little Miss Nobody

    Amy Bell Marlowe

  • He wanted to get up, and Lucy felt it would be brutal to balk any wish he had.

    The Explorer

    W. Somerset Maugham


British Dictionary definitions for balk

balk

baulk

verb

(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

noun

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
See also baulk
Derived Formsbalker or baulker, noun

Word Origin for balk

Old English balca; related to Old Norse bálkr partition, Old High German balco beam
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for balk
n.

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.

v.

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper