balk at


verb (used without object)
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.
(of a horse, mule, etc.) to stop short and stubbornly refuse to go on.
Baseball. to commit a balk.
verb (used with object)
to place an obstacle in the way of; hinder; thwart: a sudden reversal that balked her hopes.
Archaic. to let slip; fail to use: to balk an opportunity.
a check or hindrance; defeat; disappointment.
a strip of land left unplowed.
a crossbeam in the roof of a house that unites and supports the rafters; tie beam.
any heavy timber used for building purposes.
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.
Billiards. any of the eight panels or compartments lying between the cushions of the table and the balklines.
Obsolete. a miss, slip, or failure: to make a balk.
in balk, inside any of the spaces in back of the balklines on a billiard table.
Also, baulk.

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

balker, noun
balkingly, adverb
unbalked, adjective
unbalking, adjective
unbalkingly, adverb

4. check, retard, obstruct, impede, prevent. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
balk or baulk (bɔːk, bɔːlk, bɔːk, bɔːlk)
vb (usually foll by at) (foll by at)
1.  to stop short, esp suddenly or unexpectedly; jib: the horse balked at the jump
2.  to turn away abruptly; recoil: he balked at the idea of murder
3.  (tr) to thwart, check, disappoint, or foil: he was balked in his plans
4.  (tr) to avoid deliberately: he balked the question
5.  (tr) to miss unintentionally
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
[Old English balca; related to Old Norse bálkr partition, Old High German balco beam]
baulk or baulk
[Old English balca; related to Old Norse bálkr partition, Old High German balco beam]
'balker or baulk
'baulker or baulk

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. balca "ridge, bank," from or influenced by O.N. balkr "ridge of land," especially between two plowed furrows, both from P.Gmc. *balkan-, *belkan- (cf. O.S. balko, Dan. bjelke, O.Fris. balka, O.H.G. balcho, Ger. Balken "beam, rafter"), from PIE *bhelg- "beam, plank" (cf. L. fulcire "to prop up, support,"
fulcrum "bedpost;" Lith. balziena "cross-bar;" and possibly Gk. phalanx "trunk, log, line of battle"). Modern senses are figurative, either representing the balk as a hindrance or obstruction (e.g., of horses, "to stop short before an obstacle," recorded from late 15c.), or from the verb sense of "to miss or omit intentionally" (attested by late 15c.) as a lazy or incompetent plowman would in making balks. Baseball sense is first attested 1845. Related: Balky (1847).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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