\ ˈbilk How to pronounce bilk (audio) \
bilked; bilking; bilks

Definition of bilk

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to block the free development of : frustrate fate bilks their hopes
2a : to cheat out of something valuable : defraud bilking investors out of their life savings
b : to evade payment of or to bilks his creditors
c : to obtain (something) by defrauding someone The Tampa couple sent out phony sonograms and bilked money from couples wanting children, authorities say.— Brady Dennis
3 : to slip away from bilked her pursuers



Definition of bilk (Entry 2 of 2)

: an untrustworthy tricky individual : cheat

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Other Words from bilk


bilker noun

Did You Know?


Initially, "bilking" wasn't considered cheating-just good strategy for cribbage players. Language historians aren't sure where "bilk" originated, but they have noticed that its earliest uses occur in contexts referring to cribbage. Part of the scoring in cribbage involves each player adding cards from his or her hand to a pile of discards called the "crib." At the end of a hand, the dealer gets any points in the crib. Strategically, then, it's wisest for the dealer's opponent to discard non-scoring cards-the ones most likely to "balk," or put a check on, the dealer's score. Etymologists theorize that "bilk" may have originated as an alteration of that card-game "balk."

Examples of bilk in a Sentence

Verb an investigation revealed that the garage had been bilking motorists for repairs that had never been made Noun people who lost money in the scheme discovered that the investment company was a fake and the “owner” just a bilk
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Director Aaron Posner saw analogies between this era of women’s liberation and the Bard’s uproarious play, which sees scheming Falstaff’s plan to bilk wealthy wives of their fortunes unravel when the women band together. Washington Post, "15 things to do in the D.C. area this week," 13 Jan. 2020 The former co-owner of Embeya, once an illustrious Asian restaurant in the West Loop, pleaded guilty to wire fraud Thursday but insisted the amount of money bilked in the scheme was less than $20,000, not the $300,000 claimed by federal prosecutors. Paige Fry,, "Co-owner of Embeya enters guilty plea, but still disputes how much money was defrauded from West Loop restaurant," 7 Nov. 2019 Navistar International and its defense unit are accused of bilking almost $1.3 billion from the U.S. government in connection with a contract for military vehicles used by American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Andrew Harris,, "Feds join Lisle whistleblower, accuse Navistar of bilking $1.3 billion in U.S. military vehicle contract," 4 Dec. 2019 In 2008, a county audit in Miami found G4S executives in Miami had lied about empty posts at train stations, bilking taxpayers out of millions. USA Today, "The Pulse nightclub shooting and other G4S scandals," 31 Oct. 2019 ConocoPhillips says Wright used his position in the company to push fraudulent work orders for family and friends, bilking the company out of millions. Aubrey Wieber, Anchorage Daily News, "How a ConocoPhillips employee’s alleged $7 million scheme unraveled," 17 Dec. 2019 The doctor and her co-horts admitted to all of this in separate plea hearings, the U.S. Attorneys office announced on Wednesday, noting the scheme bilked nearly $8 million from Medicare and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press, "Feds: Mich. doctor ran $8M cream scam by ripping off UAW members," 27 Nov. 2019 The Arizona scheme bilked the state out of more than $814,000, the statement said. Chris Boyette, CNN, "Arizona official accused of human smuggling via a Marshall Islands adoption scheme," 9 Oct. 2019 Federal prosecutors say 39-year-old Jordan Mouton of Patterson, south of Sacramento, pleaded guilty Monday to using wire fraud and identity theft to bilk the promoters and investors of $550,000. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Man admits to defrauding concert promoters of $550,000," 7 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun And, despite its super hinky backstory, a bronze behemoth of bilk is taking shape in Everett. Yvonne Abraham,, "Is gambling here to stay?," 17 May 2018

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


1641, in the meaning defined at sense 3


1777, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for bilk

Verb and Noun

perhaps alteration of balk entry 1

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Statistics for bilk

Last Updated

18 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Bilk.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 21 January 2020.

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More Definitions for bilk


How to pronounce bilk (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of bilk

chiefly US, informal : to cheat or trick (a person or organization) especially by taking money

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More from Merriam-Webster on bilk

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for bilk

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with bilk

Spanish Central: Translation of bilk

Nglish: Translation of bilk for Spanish Speakers

Comments on bilk

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


good-natured easy friendliness

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