- 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 for balk on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for balking
A Palestinian offical said the Israelis were balking at their conditions for talks, which include freezing settlements.Kerry's Peace Push A Nothing-Burger?
May 24, 2013
In at least 20 states, governors or legislatures are balking at setting up insurance cooperatives.Red States Respond To Obamacare With Angry Tea-Party Denial
March 20, 2013
The Democrats want to block those cuts for a year, and the Republicans are balking.Obama Heckles Congress in Fiscal Cliff Speech
December 31, 2012
Even upper-income families are balking at paying $750,000 to $1 million for college.Steve Cohen on the Three Biggest College Admissions Lies
September 26, 2012
The Taliban leadership also was balking at opening a political process that NATO quite rightly demands must be Afghan led.Taliban Halts Talks With U.S., Puts NATO on Collision Course with Pakistan
March 15, 2012
And if you can propose some scheme for balking him, I'll take my hat off to you.Manasseh
Jibbing, or “balking” as the Americans term it, is a detestable vice.The Horsewoman
Alice M. Hayes
On the other hand, he, Theydon, might be balking the course of justice by holding his tongue.Number Seventeen
The elevator was as dusky as ever, jolting and balking on its resentful way up.The Woman Gives
At this balking of their hopes they set up a howl of disappointment.The Trail of The Badger
Sidford F. Hamp
- (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 balking
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.