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balk

[bawk] /bɔk/
verb (used without object)
1.
to stop, as at an obstacle, and refuse to proceed or to do something specified (usually followed by at):
He balked at making the speech.
2.
(of a horse, mule, etc.) to stop short and stubbornly refuse to go on.
3.
Baseball. to commit a balk.
verb (used with object)
4.
to place an obstacle in the way of; hinder; thwart:
a sudden reversal that balked her hopes.
5.
Archaic. to let slip; fail to use:
to balk an opportunity.
noun
6.
a check or hindrance; defeat; disappointment.
7.
a strip of land left unplowed.
8.
a crossbeam in the roof of a house that unites and supports the rafters; tie beam.
9.
any heavy timber used for building purposes.
10.
Baseball. an illegal motion by a pitcher while one or more runners are on base, as a pitch in which there is either an insufficient or too long a pause after the windup or stretch, a pretended throw to first or third base or to the batter with one foot on the pitcher's rubber, etc., resulting in a penalty advancing the runner or runners one base.
11.
Billiards. any of the eight panels or compartments lying between the cushions of the table and the balklines.
12.
Obsolete. a miss, slip, or failure:
to make a balk.
Idioms
13.
in balk, inside any of the spaces in back of the balklines on a billiard table.
Also, baulk.
Origin
900
before 900; Middle English; Old English balca covering, beam, ridge; cognate with Old Norse bǫlkr bar, partition, Dutch balk, Old Saxon balko, German Balken, Old Norse bjalki beam, Old English bolca plank; perhaps akin to Latin sufflāmen, Slovene blazína, Lithuanian balžíenas beam. See balcony
Related forms
balker, noun
balkingly, adverb
unbalked, adjective
unbalking, adjective
unbalkingly, adverb
Synonyms
4. check, retard, obstruct, impede, prevent.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for balk
  • New York restaurants balk at rule requiring public posting of calories.
  • Forget a password, and your own computer may balk at your command.
  • Senate abandons auto bailout bid after Republicans balk.
  • Poor nations balk at trade proposals.
  • While armchair pilots may balk at the idea, you can easily use a regular console-like game pad to maneuver the various aircraft.
  • Some balk because they consider the work beneath them.
  • Airlines are cutting back across the world as passengers balk at paying fares that have risen along with fuel costs.
  • The entire pathway is softly lit, because cows balk at darkness or bright light.
  • Most physicists balk at that solution, believing it couldn't possibly describe the real universe.
  • Perhaps those countries balk at football's brutality.
British Dictionary definitions for balk

balk

/bɔːk; bɔːlk/
verb
1.
(intransitive) usually foll by at. to stop short, esp suddenly or unexpectedly; jib: the horse balked at the jump
2.
(intransitive) foll by at. to turn away abruptly; recoil: he balked at the idea of murder
3.
(transitive) to thwart, check, disappoint, or foil: he was balked in his plans
4.
(transitive) to avoid deliberately: he balked the question
5.
(transitive) to miss unintentionally
noun
6.
a roughly squared heavy timber beam
7.
a timber tie beam of a roof
8.
an unploughed ridge to prevent soil erosion or mark a division on common land
9.
an obstacle; hindrance; disappointment
10.
(baseball) an illegal motion by a pitcher towards the plate or towards the base when there are runners on base, esp without delivering the ball
See also baulk
Derived Forms
balker, baulker, noun
Word Origin
Old English balca; related to Old Norse bálkr partition, Old High German balco beam
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
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Word Origin and History for balk
n.

Old English balca "ridge, bank," from or influenced by Old Norse balkr "ridge of land," especially between two plowed furrows, both from Proto-Germanic *balkan-, *belkan- (cf. Old Saxon balko, Danish bjelke, Old Frisian balka, Old High German balcho, German Balken "beam, rafter"), from PIE *bhelg- "beam, plank" (cf. Latin fulcire "to prop up, support," fulcrum "bedpost;" Lithuanian balziena "cross-bar;" and possibly Greek phalanx "trunk, log, line of battle"). Modern senses are figurative, representing the balk as a hindrance or obstruction (see balk (v.)). Baseball sense is first attested 1845.

v.

late 14c., "to leave an unplowed ridge when plowing," from balk (n.). Extended meaning "to omit, intentionally neglect" is mid-15c. Most modern senses are figurative, from the notion of a balk in the fields as a hindrance or obstruction: sense of "stop short" (as a horse confronted with an obstacle) is late 15c.; that of "to refuse" is 1580s. Related: Balked; balking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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