From Middle English balke, Old English balca, either from or influenced by Old Norse bálkr (“partition, ridge of land”), from Proto-Germanic *balkô. Cognate with Dutch balk (“balk”), German Balken (“balk”), Italian balcone (“balcony”).
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /bɔːk/, /bɔːlk/
- (General American) IPA(key): /bɔk/
- (cot–caught merger, Northern Cities Vowel Shift) IPA(key): /bɑk/
- Rhymes: -ɔːk
balk (plural balks)
- An uncultivated ridge formed in the open field system, caused by the action of ploughing.
- Bad ploughmen made balks of such ground.
- (archaeology) the wall of earth at the edge of an excavation
- beam, crossbeam
- A hindrance or disappointment; a check.
- a balk to the confidence of the bold undertaker
- A sudden and obstinate stop; a failure.
- (sports) deceptive motion; feint
- (archaic) To pass over or by.
- To omit, miss, or overlook by chance.
- (obsolete) To miss intentionally; to avoid; to shun; to refuse; to let go by; to shirk.
- By reason of the contagion then in London, we balked the nns.
- Bishop Hall
- Sick he is, and keeps his bed, and balks his meat.
- Nor doth he any creature balk, / But lays on all he meeteth.
- To stop, check, block.
- To stop short and refuse to go on.
- The horse balked.
- To refuse suddenly.
- To disappoint; to frustrate; to foil; to baffle; to thwart.
- to balk expectation
- They shall not balk my entrance.
- To engage in contradiction; to be in opposition.
- In strifeful terms with him to balk.
- To leave or make balks in.
- (Can we find and add a quotation of Gower to this entry?)
- To leave heaped up; to heap up in piles.
- Ten thousand bold Scots, two and twenty knights, / Balk'd in their own blood did Sir Walter see.
- To indicate to fishermen, by shouts or signals from shore, the direction taken by the shoals of herring.
Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for balk in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)