or baulk

See more synonyms for balk on
verb (used without object)
  1. 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.
  2. (of a horse, mule, etc.) to stop short and stubbornly refuse to go on.
  3. Baseball. to commit a balk.
verb (used with object)
  1. to place an obstacle in the way of; hinder; thwart: a sudden reversal that balked her hopes.
  2. Archaic. to let slip; fail to use: to balk an opportunity.
  1. a check or hindrance; defeat; disappointment.
  2. a strip of land left unplowed.
  3. a crossbeam in the roof of a house that unites and supports the rafters; tie beam.
  4. any heavy timber used for building purposes.
  5. 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.
  6. Billiards. any of the eight panels or compartments lying between the cushions of the table and the balklines.
  7. Obsolete. a miss, slip, or failure: to make a balk.
  1. 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

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for balked

Contemporary Examples of balked

Historical Examples of balked

  • 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

    Gene Stratton-Porter

  • The men that have solved greater problems in the past will not be balked by these.

  • Duerot has tried his hardest to sup in Lagny, and has been balked by German valour.

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for balked



  1. (intr usually foll by at) to stop short, esp suddenly or unexpectedly; jibthe horse balked at the jump
  2. (intr foll by at) to turn away abruptly; recoilhe balked at the idea of murder
  3. (tr) to thwart, check, disappoint, or foilhe was balked in his plans
  4. (tr) to avoid deliberatelyhe balked the question
  5. (tr) to miss unintentionally
  1. a roughly squared heavy timber beam
  2. a timber tie beam of a roof
  3. an unploughed ridge to prevent soil erosion or mark a division on common land
  4. an obstacle; hindrance; disappointment
  5. 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 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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper