Origin of chalk

before 900; Middle English chalke, Old English cealc < Latin calc- (stem of calx) lime
Related formschalk·like, adjectiveun·chalked, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for chalk

Contemporary Examples of chalk

Historical Examples of chalk

  • The chalk is deeply indented in many places, and is honey-combed with caves.

  • The fascination of writing on it with chalk still obsessed the children.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • Where's that piece o' chalk you had when you marked out your tumbler-quilt?

    Meadow Grass

    Alice Brown

  • I'll chalk a lane into the closet, an' we'll both keep a right o' way there.

    Meadow Grass

    Alice Brown

  • A may bush, overhanging a little precipice of chalk, caught her eye.

British Dictionary definitions for chalk



a soft fine-grained white sedimentary rock consisting of nearly pure calcium carbonate, containing minute fossil fragments of marine organisms, usually without a cementing material
a piece of chalk or a substance like chalk, often coloured, used for writing and drawing on a blackboard
a line, mark, etc made with chalk
billiards snooker a small cube of prepared chalk or similar substance for rubbing the tip of a cue
British a score, tally, or record
as alike as chalk and cheese or as different as chalk and cheese informal totally different in essentials
by a long chalk British informal by far
can't tell chalk from cheese or doesn't know chalk from cheese to be unable to judge or appreciate important differences
not by a long chalk British informal by no means; not possibly
(modifier) made of chalk


to draw or mark (something) with chalk
(tr) to mark, rub, or whiten with or as if with chalk
(intr) (of paint) to become chalky; powder
(tr) to spread chalk on (land) as a fertilizer
Derived Formschalklike, adjectivechalky, adjectivechalkiness, noun

Word Origin for chalk

Old English cealc, from Latin calx limestone, from Greek khalix pebble
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 chalk

Old English cealc "chalk, lime, plaster; pebble," a West Germanic borrowing from Latin calx (2) "limestone, lime (crushed limestone), small stone," from Greek khalix "small pebble," which many trace to a PIE root for "split, break up." In most Germanic languages still with the "limestone" sense, but in English transferred to the opaque, white, soft limestone found abundantly in the south of the island. Modern spelling is from early 14c. The Latin word for "chalk" was creta, which also is of unknown origin.


1570s, "to mix with chalk;" 1590s as "to mark with chalk," from chalk (n.). Related: Chalked; chalking. Old English had cealcian "to whiten." Certain chalk marks on shipped objects meant "admitted" or "shipped free," hence some figurative senses. Chalk boards also were commonly used in keeping credit, score, etc., hence figurative use of chalk it up (1903).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Science definitions for chalk



A soft, white, gray, or yellow limestone consisting mainly of calcium carbonate and formed primarily from the accumulation of fossil microorganisms such as foraminifera and calcareous algae. Chalk is used in making lime, cement, and fertilizers, and as a whitening pigment in ceramics, paints, and cosmetics. The chalk used in classrooms is usually artificial.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.