\ 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

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 The freeway traffic kept up a steady thrum, punctuated by the intermittent blare of a balky car alarm. Los Angeles Times, 29 Dec. 2021 Host JR Radcliffe and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writer Jim Owczarski discuss the fallout, plus a balky calf for Giannis, the return of Wesley Matthews and Donte DiVincenzo getting one step closer to basketball activity. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 8 Dec. 2021 With full ship shock trials behind it, the USS Ford is completing the ship’s five-year transition from a balky test-and-trials platform to a functional combat asset. Craig Hooper, Forbes, 21 Oct. 2021 Still, few are betting against Pelosi, assuming Biden can reach agreement with the two balky Democrats — Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia — standing athwart his efforts. Los Angeles Times, 18 Oct. 2021 And Leonard has not been himself this season, largely due to a balky ankle that hasn’t been right despite offseason surgery. Joel A. Erickson, The Indianapolis Star, 17 Oct. 2021 Like businesses, many become balky, bloated, ineffectual, unnecessary. WSJ, 30 Sep. 2021 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

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

5 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Balky.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jan. 2022.

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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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