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[bawk] /bɔk/
verb (used without object), verb (used with object), noun


or baulk

[bawk] /bɔk/
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.
Origin of balk
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
4. check, retard, obstruct, impede, prevent. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for baulk
Historical Examples
  • I should say they'd give you a miss in baulk, for they must believe you invulnerable.

    The Elephant God Gordon Casserly
  • He had brought himself to the point that he would not conceive an obstacle that should baulk him.

    Tancred Benjamin Disraeli
  • He was afraid the consul would be down and baulk his rapid but carefully arranged scheme.

  • You may baulk all the bailiffs, and defy any other man to serve you with a writ; but, by jingo!

    Handy Andy, Volume One Samuel Lover
  • English readers need not baulk themselves here because of the late fall of agricultural rents in this country.

    The Impossibilities of Anarchism George Bernard Shaw
  • Will was with me, and both ever too well disposed to baulk an opportunity.

    Memoirs Of Fanny Hill John Cleland
  • It might be a wish to baulk this new passion through my interference, while he exposed me to the risk of his Majesty's anger.

    In Kings' Byways Stanley J. Weyman
  • On that night, I determined to baulk your curiosity, and yet to gain your confidence; and I succeeded.

    Basil Wilkie Collins
  • However, we'll baulk him yet: another half-hour, and I am on the moor: we must give him time.

    Ernest Maltravers, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • He said he would even have spent as much, to baulk or injure Copperfield.'

    David Copperfield Charles Dickens
British Dictionary definitions for baulk


/bɔːk; usually for sense 1 bɔːlk/
(billiards) Also (US) balk
  1. the space, usually 29 inches deep, between the baulk line and the bottom cushion
  2. (in baulk-line games) one of the spaces between the cushions and the baulk lines
  3. in baulk, inside one of these spaces
(archaeol) a strip of earth left between excavation trenches for the study of the complete stratigraphy of a site
(croquet) either of two lines (A baulk and B baulk) at diagonally opposite ends of the court, from which the ball is struck into play
verb, noun
a variant spelling of balk


/bɔːk; bɔːlk/
(intransitive) usually foll by at. to stop short, esp suddenly or unexpectedly; jib: the horse balked at the jump
(intransitive) foll by at. to turn away abruptly; recoil: he balked at the idea of murder
(transitive) to thwart, check, disappoint, or foil: he was balked in his plans
(transitive) to avoid deliberately: he balked the question
(transitive) to miss unintentionally
a roughly squared heavy timber beam
a timber tie beam of a roof
an unploughed ridge to prevent soil erosion or mark a division on common land
an obstacle; hindrance; disappointment
(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 baulk

alternative spelling of balk, especially in billiards, in reference to a bad shot.



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.


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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