\ ˈbȯ-kē How to pronounce balky (audio) , sometimes ˈbȯl- \
balkier; balkiest

Definition of balky

: refusing or likely to refuse to proceed, act, or function as directed or expected a balky mule a balky engine

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Other Words from balky

balkiness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for balky

contrary, perverse, restive, balky, wayward mean inclined to resist authority or control. contrary implies a temperamental unwillingness to accept orders or advice. a contrary child perverse may imply wrongheaded, determined, or cranky opposition to what is reasonable or normal. a perverse, intractable critic restive suggests unwillingness or inability to submit to discipline or follow orders. tired soldiers growing restive balky suggests a refusing to proceed in a desired direction or course of action. a balky witness wayward suggests strong-willed capriciousness and irregularity in behavior. a school for wayward youths

Examples of balky in a Sentence

a balky toddler who only seemed to know the word “no” when told to do something
Recent Examples on the Web Pushing two gargantuan infrastructure bills through a balky Congress. Los Angeles Times, 12 Aug. 2021 Unlike that balky transfer case shifter in the Jeep, Ford has a rotary dial on the center console with rubberized buttons on the top to quickly select between two, four-high or four-low and trail control. Sam Abuelsamid, Forbes, 28 June 2021 Spacewalkers Thomas Pesquet and Shane Kimbrough floated back outside the International Space Station Sunday for a second attempt to deploy a balky roll-out solar array. William Harwood, CBS News, 20 June 2021 At times, Mitchell has been exceptional vs. the Clippers despite his balky right ankle, but his limitations were glaring on Wednesday evening. Josh Newman, The Salt Lake Tribune, 17 June 2021 At one point, after many months, the shifting did start getting a bit balky. Eben Weiss, Outside Online, 23 May 2021 Robertson, despite a balky Achilles, still played 28 minutes. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 29 Apr. 2021 And, within a month, the state’s vaccine program had gone from slow and balky to one of the top 10 nationally for vaccines administered per capita., 10 Apr. 2021 Given this city’s oversupply of fountains and water features that are balky, underperforming or in total disrepair, building another one to frame a performance stage makes little sense. Washington Post, 16 Apr. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'balky.' 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 balky

1831, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

21 Aug 2021

Cite this Entry

“Balky.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for balky



English Language Learners Definition of balky

: not doing what is wanted or expected


\ ˈbȯ-kē How to pronounce balky (audio) \
balkier; balkiest

Kids Definition of balky

: likely to stop or refuse to go a balky engine

More from Merriam-Webster on balky

Nglish: Translation of balky for Spanish Speakers


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