or baulk

[ bawk ]
See 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.

  1. 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.

  1. a crossbeam in the roof of a house that unites and supports the rafters; tie beam.

  2. any heavy timber used for building purposes.

  3. 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.

  4. Billiards. any of the eight panels or compartments lying between the cushions of the table and the balklines.

  5. Obsolete. a miss, slip, or failure: to make a balk.

Idioms about balk

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

Origin of balk

First recorded 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, Slovenian blazína, Lithuanian balžíenas “beam.” See balcony

Other words for balk

Other words from balk

  • balker, noun
  • balk·ing·ly, adverb
  • un·balked, adjective
  • un·balk·ing, adjective
  • un·balk·ing·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

British Dictionary definitions for balk



/ (bɔːk, bɔːlk) /

  1. (intr usually foll by at) to stop short, esp suddenly or unexpectedly; jib: the horse balked at the jump

  2. (intr foll by at) to turn away abruptly; recoil: he balked at the idea of murder

  1. (tr) to thwart, check, disappoint, or foil: he was balked in his plans

  2. (tr) to avoid deliberately: he balked the question

  3. (tr) to miss unintentionally

  1. a roughly squared heavy timber beam

  2. a timber tie beam of a roof

  1. an unploughed ridge to prevent soil erosion or mark a division on common land

  2. an obstacle; hindrance; disappointment

  3. 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

Origin of balk

Old English balca; related to Old Norse bálkr partition, Old High German balco beam

Derived forms of balk

  • balker or baulker, noun

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