\ ˈbȯ-kē, sometimes ˈbȯl- How to pronounce balky (audio) \
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 But if the monument is one of the best known American symbols, the elevator inside had also achieved a kind of celebrity for its notoriously balky operation. Martin Weil, Washington Post, "Washington Monument elevator acts up," 21 Sep. 2019 The senior linebacker has had his last two seasons cut short by injury; a balky shoulder limited him to seven games in 2017 and a knee injury suffered in training camp last August wiped out his 2018 season. Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times, "Five things to watch during UCLA’s training camp," 30 July 2019 Receiver Phillip Dorsett, who missed the win over the Giants with a balky hamstring, was at the session and was moving free and easy., "Press Pass: Ben Watson is back with the Patriots," 17 Oct. 2019 The machines were big, balky and relatively few in number. Martin Weil, Washington Post, "Fernando Corbató dies at 93; MIT scientist fostered the digital revolution — and the computer password," 16 July 2019 But Brissett's balky knee likely cost Indianapolis two games. Scott Horner, Indianapolis Star, "NFL power rankings: How do Colts compare to other 5-4 teams?," 12 Nov. 2019 Eric Speth, the maritime program manager at Jamestown, said Perry had established himself as his foundation’s go-to guy, who could sail a ship or fix a balky motor with equal finesse., "YSTIC, Conn. — He is the captain now of a majestic ship, a 106-foot wooden vessel that has sailed out of the yellowed pages of history and charted a historic course of its own.," 30 Oct. 2019 The balky charger is 19 years old; the one that failed in the spring was almost as old. Fox News, "NASA moves up 1st all-female spacewalk to fix power unit," 16 Oct. 2019 The tone of local media coverage amid his various injuries on some level obscured the fact that Rose was wired only to win games, a fundamental quality his balky lower body body and his wavering confidence in its function never wholly wore down. The Crossover Staff,, "SI's NBA All-Decade Team: Biggest Snubs," 18 Sep. 2019

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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Time Traveler for balky

Time Traveler

The first known use of balky was in 1831

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Statistics for balky

Last Updated

31 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Balky.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 20 January 2020.

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More Definitions for balky


How to pronounce balky (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of balky

chiefly US : 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

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More from Merriam-Webster on balky

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for balky

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with balky

Spanish Central: Translation of balky

Nglish: Translation of balky for Spanish Speakers

Comments on balky

What made you want to look up balky? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not to be intimidated or subdued

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