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verb (used with object)
  1. to defraud; cheat: He bilked the government of almost a million dollars.
  2. to evade payment of (a debt).
  3. to frustrate: a career bilked by poor health.
  4. to escape from; elude: to bilk one's pursuers.
  1. a cheat; swindler.
  2. a trick; fraud; deceit.

Origin of bilk

First recorded in 1625–35; of obscure origin
Related formsbilk·er, noun

Synonyms for bilk

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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British Dictionary definitions for bilk


verb (tr)
  1. to balk; thwart
  2. (often foll by of) to cheat or deceive, esp to avoid making payment to
  3. to escape from; elude
  4. cribbage to play a card that hinders (one's opponent) from scoring in his or her crib
  1. a swindle or cheat
  2. a person who swindles or cheats
Derived Formsbilker, noun

Word Origin for bilk

C17: perhaps variant of balk
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 bilk

1650s, from or along with the noun (1630s), first used as a cribbage term; as a verb, "to spoil (someone's) score." Origin obscure, it was believed in 17c. to be "a word signifying nothing;" perhaps it s a thinned form of balk "to hinder." Meaning "to defraud" is first recorded 1670s. Related: Bilked; bilking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper