- a group of buildings in a city bounded by intersecting streets on each side
- the area or distance between such intersecting streets
- 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
- British a letterpress printing plate, esp one mounted type-high on wood or metal
- a section or quantity, as of tickets or shares, handled or considered as a single unit
- (as modifier)a block booking; block voting
- a stretch of railway in which only one train may travel at a time
- (as modifier)a block signal
verb (mainly tr)
Word Origin 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.
block and tackle
see chip off the old block; knock someone's block off; on the block; stumbling block.