See more synonyms for block on
  1. a solid mass of wood, stone, etc., usually with one or more flat or approximately flat faces.
  2. a hollow masonry building unit of cement, terra cotta, etc.: a wall made of concrete blocks.
  3. one of a set of cube-shaped pieces of wood, plastic, or the like, used as a child's toy in building.
  4. a mold or piece on which something is shaped or kept in shape: a hat block.
  5. a piece of wood used in the art of making woodcuts or wood engravings.
  6. Printing. the base on which a plate is mounted to make it type-high.
  7. a projection left on a squared stone to provide a means of lifting it.
  8. a short length of plank serving as a bridging, as between joists.
  9. a stump or wooden structure on which a condemned person is beheaded: Mary Stuart went bravely to the block.
  10. auction block.
  11. Machinery. a part enclosing one or more freely rotating, grooved pulleys, about which ropes or chains pass to form a hoisting or hauling tackle.
  12. an obstacle, obstruction, or hindrance: His stubbornness is a block to all my efforts.
  13. the state or condition of being obstructed; blockage: The traffic block lasted several hours.
  14. Pathology.
    1. an obstruction, as of a nerve.
    2. heart block.
  15. Sports. a hindering of an opponent's actions.
  16. a quantity, portion, or section taken as a unit or dealt with at one time: a large block of theater tickets.
  17. a small section of a city, town, etc., enclosed by neighboring and intersecting streets: She lives on my block.
  18. the length of one side of such a section: We walked two blocks over.
  19. Chiefly British. a large building divided into separate apartments, offices, shops, etc.
  20. a large number of bonds or shares of stock sold together as a single unit.
  21. Computers.
    1. a group of data stored as a unit on an external storage medium and handled as a unit by the computer for input or output: This file has 20 records per block.
    2. a section of storage locations in a computer allocated to a particular set of instructions or data.
    3. a group of consecutive machine words organized as a unit and guiding a particular computer operation, especially with reference to input and output.
    4. (on a flow chart) a symbol representing an operation, device, or instruction in a computer program.
  22. Railroads. any of the short lengths into which a track is divided for signaling purposes.
  23. Philately. a group of four or more unseparated stamps, not in a strip.
  24. Slang. a person's head.
  25. Glassmaking. a wooden or metal cup for blocking a gather.
  26. an obstruction or stoppage in mental processes or speech, especially when related to stress, emotional conflict, etc.
  27. writer's block.
  28. Geology.
    1. any large, angular mass of solid rock.
    2. fault block.
  29. (in Canada) a wild or remote area of land that has not yet been surveyed: the Peace River block.
  30. Automotive. cylinder block.
  31. Falconry. a low perch to which a falcon is tethered outdoors.
verb (used with object)
  1. to obstruct (someone or something) by placing obstacles in the way (sometimes followed by up): to block one's exit; to block up a passage.
  2. to fit with blocks; mount on a block.
  3. to shape or prepare on or with a block: to block a hat; to block a sweater.
  4. to join (the ends of boards or the like) by fastening to a block of wood.
  5. Theater.
    1. Also block plan or work out the movement of performers in a play, pageant, etc.: Tomorrow we'll block act one.
    2. to draw a floor plan on (a stage) in order to indicate placement of scenery, stage property, etc.
  6. Pathology, Physiology. to stop the passage of impulses in (a nerve).
  7. Computers. to group (contiguous data) together so as to allow to be read or written in a single operation.
  8. Sports. to hinder or bar the actions or movements of (an opposing player), especially legitimately.
  9. Glassmaking.
    1. to shape (a molten gather) in a wet cup of wood or metal.
    2. to plunge a block of wood into (molten glass) to aid in refining the glass.
  10. Metalworking. to give (a forging) a rough form before finishing.
  11. Electronics. to apply a high negative bias to the grid of (a vacuum tube), for reducing the plate current to zero.
verb (used without object)
  1. to act so as to obstruct an opponent, as in football, hockey, and basketball: He doesn't get many baskets, but he sure can block.
  2. Theater. to block a play, act, scene, stage, etc.: The director will block tomorrow.
  3. to suffer a block.
Verb Phrases
  1. block in/out, to sketch or outline roughly or generally, without details: She blocked out a color scheme for the interiors.
  2. block out,
    1. block(def 36a).
    2. box out.
  1. put/go on the block, to offer or be offered for sale at auction: to put family heirlooms on the block.

Origin of block

1275–1325; Middle English blok log, stump (< Middle French bloc) < Middle Dutch blok; perhaps akin to balk
Related formsblock·a·ble, adjectivere·block, verb (used with object)sub·block, nounun·blocked, adjective
Can be confusedbloc block

Synonyms for block

See more synonyms for on


  1. Herbert LawrenceHerblock, 1909–2001, U.S. cartoonist. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for block

Contemporary Examples of block

Historical Examples of block

  • At Fortieth Street he looked down to the middle of the block.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • He left the block of offices and went towards Prince's Street.

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

  • He hastened after her and saw her enter a block of offices in Cornhill.

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

  • She held a brush in her hand, and she looked down at her block.

  • Abbey was fetched immediately, but he only arrived in time to see me on the block.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

British Dictionary definitions for block


  1. a large solid piece of wood, stone, or other material with flat rectangular sides, as for use in building
  2. any large solid piece of wood, stone, etc, usually having at least one face fairly flat
  3. such a piece on which particular tasks may be done, as chopping, cutting, or beheading
  4. Also called: building block one of a set of wooden or plastic cubes as a child's toy
  5. a form on which things are shaped or displayeda wig block
  6. slang a person's head (esp in the phrase knock someone's block off)
  7. do one's block Australian and NZ slang to become angry
  8. a dull, unemotional, or hardhearted person
  9. a large building of offices, flats, etc
    1. a group of buildings in a city bounded by intersecting streets on each side
    2. the area or distance between such intersecting streets
  10. Australian and NZ an area of land for a house, farm, etc
  11. Australian and NZ a log, usually a willow, fastened to a timber base and used in a wood-chopping competition
  12. an area of land, esp one to be divided for building or settling
  13. See cylinder block
    1. a piece of wood, metal, or other material having an engraved, cast, or carved design in relief, used either for printing or for stamping book covers, etc
    2. Britisha letterpress printing plate, esp one mounted type-high on wood or metal
  14. a casing housing one or more freely rotating pulleysSee also block and tackle
  15. on the block mainly US and Canadian up for auction
  16. the act of obstructing or condition of being obstructed, as in sports
  17. an obstruction or hindrance
  18. pathol
    1. interference in the normal physiological functioning of an organ or part
    2. See heart block
    3. See nerve block
  19. psychol a short interruption of perceptual or thought processes
  20. obstruction of an opponent in a sport
    1. a section or quantity, as of tickets or shares, handled or considered as a single unit
    2. (as modifier)a block booking; block voting
    1. a stretch of railway in which only one train may travel at a time
    2. (as modifier)a block signal
  21. an unseparated group of four or more postage stampsCompare strip 1 (def. 3)
  22. a pad of paper
  23. computing a group of words treated as a unit of data on a tape, disk, etc
  24. athletics short for starting block
  25. cricket a mark made near the popping crease by a batsman to indicate his position in relation to the wicket
  26. a chip off the old block informal a person who resembles one of his or her parents in behaviour
verb (mainly tr)
  1. to shape or form (something) into a block
  2. to fit with or mount on a block
  3. to shape by use of a blockto block a hat
  4. (often foll by up) to obstruct (a passage, channel, etc) or prevent or impede the motion or flow of (something or someone) by introducing an obstacleto block the traffic; to block up a pipe
  5. to impede, retard, or prevent (an action, procedure, etc)
  6. to stamp (a title, design, etc) on (a book cover, etc) by means of a block (see sense 12), esp using gold leaf or other foil
  7. (esp of a government or central bank) to limit the use or conversion of assets or currency
  8. (also intr) sport to obstruct or impede movement by (an opponent)
  9. (intr) to suffer a psychological block
  10. to interrupt a physiological function, as by use of an anaesthetic
  11. (also intr) cricket to play (a ball) defensively
Derived Formsblocker, noun

Word Origin for block

C14: from Old French bloc, from Dutch blok; related to Old High German bloh
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 block

"solid piece," c.1300, from Old French bloc "log, block" of wood (13c.), via Middle Dutch bloc "trunk of a tree" or Old High German bloh, from a common Germanic source, from PIE *bhlugo-, from *bhelg- "a thick plank, beam" (see balk).

Meaning "mould for a hat" is from 1570s. Slang sense of "head" is from 1630s. Extended sense of "obstruction" is first recorded 1640s. In cricket from 1825; in U.S. football from 1912. The meaning in city block is 1796, from the notion of a "compact mass" of buildings; slang meaning "fashionable promenade" is 1869.

BLOCK. A term applied in America to a square mass of houses included between four streets. It is a very useful one. [Bartlett]

"obstruct," 1590s, from French bloquer "to block, stop up," from Old French bloc (see block (n.)). Meaning "to make smooth or to give shape on a block" is from 1620s. Stage and theater sense is from 1961. Sense in cricket is from 1772; in U.S. football from 1889. Related: Blocked; blocking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

block in Medicine


  1. Interruption, especially obstruction, of a normal physiological function.
  2. Interruption, complete or partial, permanent or temporary, of the passage of a nervous impulse.
  3. Atrioventricular block.
  4. Sudden cessation of speech or a thought process without an immediate observable cause, sometimes considered a consequence of repression.
  1. To arrest passage through; obstruct.
Related formsblockage (blŏkĭj) n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

block in Science

block and tackle

  1. An arrangement of pulleys and ropes used to reduce the amount of force needed to move heavy loads. One pulley is attached to the load, and rope or chains connect this pulley to a fixed pulley. Each pulley may have multiple grooves or wheels for the rope to pass over numerous times. Pulling the rope or chain slowly draws the load-bearing pulley toward the fixed one with high mechanical advantage.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with block


see chip off the old block; knock someone's block off; on the block; stumbling block.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.