ˈbȯ-kē How to pronounce balky (audio)
 sometimes  ˈbȯl-
balkier; balkiest
: refusing or likely to refuse to proceed, act, or function as directed or expected
a balky mule
a balky engine
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 The original May 6 launch was scuttled hours before takeoff due to a balky rocket valve. Laurence Darmiento, Los Angeles Times, 22 May 2024 Eventually, all the balky presses got going, and the Chicago Tribune completed its final Freedom Center run at 12:48 a.m. on Sunday. Robert Channick, Chicago Tribune, 19 May 2024 Stoney didn’t like how the Wave reacted to the goal, echoing her team’s balky response in Seattle. Tom Krasovic, San Diego Union-Tribune, 18 May 2024 The culprit in his defining stretch on the front nine was a balky driver. Bob Spear, Charlotte Observer, 14 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for balky 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'balky.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


balk entry 1 + -y entry 1

First Known Use

1831, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of balky was in 1831

Dictionary Entries Near balky

Cite this Entry

“Balky.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


balkier; balkiest
: likely to refuse to act or function as directed or expected
a balky mule
a balky engine

More from Merriam-Webster on balky

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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