\ ˈbȯk How to pronounce balk (audio) , sometimes ˈbȯlk \
balked; balking; balks

Definition of balk

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to refuse abruptly used with at Congress balked at putting up the money— Thomas Fleming
2 : to stop short and refuse to proceed The horse balked at the jump and threw the rider.
3 sports : to commit a balk (see balk entry 2 sense 1)

transitive verb

1 : to check or stop by or as if by an obstacle : block … had neither been balked nor been frightened …— Francis Hackett
2 archaic : to pass over or by … such an age as ours balks no expense …— William Cowper



Definition of balk (Entry 2 of 2)

1a baseball : an occurrence in which a pitcher stops suddenly or makes an illegal movement after starting to throw a pitch The pitcher was charged with a balk.
b sports : failure of a competitor to complete a motion (such as a jump, vault, or dive)
2 billiards
a : the space behind the balkline on a billiard table
b : any of the outside divisions made by the balklines
4 : beam, rafter
5 : a ridge of land left unplowed as a dividing line or through carelessness

Other Words from balk


balker noun

Choose the Right Synonym for balk


frustrate, thwart, foil, baffle, balk mean to check or defeat another's plan or block achievement of a goal. frustrate implies making vain or ineffectual all efforts however vigorous or persistent. frustrated attempts at government reform thwart suggests frustration or checking by crossing or opposing. the army thwarted his attempt at a coup foil implies checking or defeating so as to discourage further effort. foiled by her parents, he stopped trying to see her baffle implies frustration by confusing or puzzling. baffled by the maze of rules and regulations balk suggests the interposing of obstacles or hindrances. officials felt that legal restrictions had balked their efforts to control crime

Examples of balk in a Sentence

Verb The horse balked and would not jump the fence. The runner on third base tried to make the pitcher balk. Noun the constant interruptions proved to be a balk to the flow of conversation
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Purists and scholars alike will balk at my inclusion of this film on a horror movie list, but Daughters of the Dust operates squarely within the Black Horror tradition. Lea Anderson, Men's Health, 29 Aug. 2022 Qatar would almost certainly balk at this proposal. Jonathan Schanzer, WSJ, 15 Aug. 2022 Or did even the gamely indulgent Russian, though too tactful to say so, balk at the image’s molten energy? Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, 9 May 2022 Many would balk at the mere mention of such a conflict, but the reality is that such a scenario is increasingly plausible. Roger Wicker, National Review, 11 Aug. 2022 Industry may also balk at creating and supporting a white elephant without any assurances of sustained funding from the government. Rakesh Kumar, Fortune, 14 July 2022 Now, some people may balk at that second word, pride. Caroline Casey, Forbes, 4 July 2022 But some large health care organizations may balk at handing over their data to Amazon’s cloud arm, AWS. Mario Aguilar, STAT, 3 June 2022 In today’s precarious economic environment, investors may balk at a gargantuan transaction that forces a company to amass serious amounts of new debt. Cynthia Littleton, Variety, 25 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun On a third step-off, a pitcher must either pick off the runner or be charged with a balk. Alex Speier,, 15 Sep. 2022 After a third disengagement, the pitcher is charged with a balk unless a runner advances a base. James Yasko, Chron, 13 Sep. 2022 The fortune came at other points, too, with the balk that moved Cedric Mullins into scoring position in the third inning and Lyles pitching around base runners all night. Andy Kostka, Baltimore Sun, 12 July 2022 Maybe, just maybe, that had something to do with ticket prices going for a balk-worthy $140 a pop in the theater. Hannah Edgar, Chicago Tribune, 13 Aug. 2022 Following a two-run first inning where the Orioles took the lead on three singles and a balk, Mahle was lights out the rest of the way. Charlie Goldsmith, The Enquirer, 31 July 2022 Williams then scored another run on a balk. Hudson Valley went back ahead in the bottom of the fourth with an unearned run, but Aberdeen overcame it with the seventh inning rally. Randy Mcroberts, Baltimore Sun, 12 Aug. 2022 The second base umpire called a balk on Scissum, sending the winning runner home from third and setting off a Mobile Christian celebration. Ben Thomas |, al, 17 May 2022 The Angels got a break in looking to tie the score when Fletcher and Rengifo advanced when Perez was called for a balk. Sarah Valenzuela, Los Angeles Times, 29 July 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'balk.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of balk


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 5

History and Etymology for balk

Noun and Verb

Middle English balke, from Old English balca; akin to Old High German balko beam, Latin fulcire to prop, Greek phalanx log, phalanx

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Time Traveler for balk

Time Traveler

The first known use of balk was before the 12th century

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Last Updated

11 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Balk.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for balk


\ ˈbȯk How to pronounce balk (audio) \
balked; balking

Kids Definition of balk

1 : to stop short and refuse to go
2 : to refuse to do something often suddenly He balked at paying the bill.

More from Merriam-Webster on balk

Nglish: Translation of balk for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of balk for Arabic Speakers


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