\ ˈbilk \
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


an investigation revealed that the garage had been bilking motorists for repairs that had never been made


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

In 2014, a contractor working on his house, Noel Muir, bilked him out of nearly all of the $500,000 that Mr. Taylor had received for the Kyoto Prize; Mr. Muir was sentenced to one to three years in prison. Ben Ratliff, New York Times, "Cecil Taylor, Pianist Who Defied Jazz Orthodoxy, Is Dead at 89," 6 Apr. 2018 Tens of millions of people are ensnared in these pyramid schemes that use cult-like techniques to brainwash their targets and bilk them out of their money. The Economist, "A multi-level scourgePyramid schemes cause huge social harm in China," 3 Feb. 2018 Some Jamaicans see little wrong with bilking Americans. The Economist, "Bad vybzIn Jamaica’s tourist hub, a state of emergency," 25 Jan. 2018 Absent getting caught, Moody said Downs would have continued on bilking Lake County taxpayers. Craig Lyons, Post-Tribune, "Co-defendants of former Sheriff Buncich get probation for roles in bribery scheme," 9 July 2018 The President has complained that Canada's trade policies have bilked US farmers and dairymen. Z. Byron Wolf, CNN, "North America feels divided on everything but the World Cup," 13 June 2018 The co-owner and a manager of a Findlay Market stand have been charged with bilking the government out of $3.4 million through a food stamp fraud scheme that dates back eight years. Kevin Grasha,, "Findlay Market vendor charged in $3.4 million food stamp fraud scheme," 13 June 2018 Half of the 90 charges are theft and racketeering counts that accuse them of bilking patients by tricking them into paying for unlicensed services. Ben Brasch, ajc, "Cobb DA: Docs, fake nurse face 90 charges for illegal medical practice," 1 May 2018 MADISON - Wisconsin's flagship jobs agency has ended its pursuit of repayment of a state loan awarded to a De Pere businessman accused of bilking millions from investors and defrauding the state’s job-creation agency of more than $1 million. Molly Beck, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wisconsin jobs agency writes off $1.1 million loan owed by De Pere businessman jailed for defrauding investors," 11 July 2018

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


perhaps alteration of balk entry 2


see bilk entry 1

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Dictionary Entries near bilk







bill and coo

Statistics for bilk

Last Updated

13 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for bilk

The first known use of bilk was in 1641

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More Definitions for bilk



English Language Learners Definition of bilk

: to cheat or trick (a person or organization) especially by taking money

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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).


to make amends

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