\ 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

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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 extravagant centerpiece proved to be a balk to the flow of conversation
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb On the other side, progressive supporters may balk if party leaders shrink their proposals. Timothy Puko, WSJ, 18 July 2021 So, when Orlando ice cream empress Kelly Seidl wondered whether Gose would work for a float, Foor didn’t balk. Amy Drew Thompson,, 16 July 2021 Some readers may balk at seeing Bill Barr get credit for anything, and with good reason. Mark Whitaker, Washington Post, 15 July 2021 Of course, passengers might balk at being bombarded by ads while simply trying to get a lift to the grocery store. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 7 July 2021 European nations may, however, balk at the expense. Tracy Wilkinson Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 1 July 2021 More progressive Democrats may balk at the plan or more conservative Republicans may try to chip away at the deal’s support. Matt Canham, The Salt Lake Tribune, 24 June 2021 For example, regulators could balk at allowing two broadcasters, NBC and CBS, to operate under one roof. Lillian Rizzo, WSJ, 23 June 2021 Some liberal Westerners balk at the compulsory nature of the practice which, in Europe or North America, would be seen as an authoritarian imposition. David Vetter, Forbes, 27 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Whit Merrifield led off with a single up the middle, moved to second on a balk and then to third on a single to right by Carlos Santana. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 20 July 2021 Before the next pitch, Bonnette spotted a balk by Bloom-Carroll’s pitcher. Matt Goul, cleveland, 14 June 2021 With two outs and Joey Ortiz at the plate, a balk call against Malvin Pena brought Welk across the plate with the eventual winning run. Randy Mcroberts,, 24 May 2021 Trinity put the game away in the bottom of the sixth inning by tacking on three more insurance runs thanks to a two-run base hit from Josh Castleman and a balk call on Harris extending the lead to the game’s final margin. Dominique Yates, The Courier-Journal, 8 May 2021 In Triple-A, the bases will be 3 inches wider, in Class A there will be different balk rules. Dom Amore,, 3 May 2021 Pro-gun groups hailed the agency's balk as a victory, but some cautioned the bureau may be back at it in the future. Jake Dima, Washington Examiner, 31 Mar. 2021 Antico scored that initial run, then Zubia and second baseman Mitchell Daly moved into scoring position on a balk. Nick Moyle, San Antonio Express-News, 12 June 2021 The Brewers won once on a walk-off balk, on July 15, 2005, against Washington and pitcher Mike Stanton. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 28 May 2021

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.

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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

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

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Last Updated

25 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Balk.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for balk



English Language Learners Definition of balk

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to suddenly show that you do not want to do something : to refuse to do what someone else wants you to do
of a horse, mule, etc. : to stop quickly and refuse to continue going
of an engine : to fail to work in the usual or expected way



English Language Learners Definition of balk (Entry 2 of 2)

baseball : an occurrence in which a pitcher stops suddenly or makes an illegal movement after starting to throw a pitch


\ 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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