bilk

1 of 2

verb

bilked; bilking; bilks

transitive verb

1
: to block the free development of : frustrate
fate bilks their hopes
2
a
: 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
bilker noun

bilk

2 of 2

noun

: an untrustworthy tricky individual : cheat

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."

Example Sentences

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
Phone scammers are threatening Clark County residents with arrest to bilk them out of thousands of dollars, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday. The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, 18 Jan. 2023 The study has even made its way to the Colbert Report, where host Stephen Colbert suggested that the key to rebooting the economy is using these ads to bilk monkeys out of their money . Veronique Greenwood, Discover Magazine, 30 June 2011 Scammers have a lot of opportunities to bilk people during the holiday season. Dalvin Brown, WSJ, 6 Dec. 2022 But the money became a tempting target for malicious actors, who took advantage of lax rules - and inadequate oversight - to bilk the government for staggering sums. Tony Romm, Anchorage Daily News, 1 Dec. 2022 Authorities in central China on Monday announced the arrests of 234 people involved in a scam to bilk people out of their savings with the false promise of high interest rates on deposits in obscure rural banks. BostonGlobe.com, 29 Aug. 2022 After hooking her mother, Sabine and her accomplices allegedly spent months maintaining the con to bilk the elderly woman out of money, jewelry and artwork. Jonathan Edwards, Washington Post, 12 Aug. 2022 At the same time, scammers are getting more sophisticated and shifting their attention to robo-texts, which have exploded in popularity as a way to bilk unsuspected people. Irina Ivanova, CBS News, 22 July 2022 How did an international scheme based in London to bilk old people out of cash through booze get brought down because of someone in Highland Heights? Laura Johnston, cleveland, 16 June 2022
Noun
And, despite its super hinky backstory, a bronze behemoth of bilk is taking shape in Everett. Yvonne Abraham, BostonGlobe.com, 17 May 2018 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

Verb and Noun

perhaps alteration of balk entry 1

First Known Use

Verb

1641, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Noun

1777, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of bilk was in 1641

Podcast

Dictionary Entries Near bilk

Cite this Entry

“Bilk.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bilk. Accessed 6 Feb. 2023.

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