noun, often attributive
\ˈbläk \

Definition of block 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1 : a compact usually solid piece of substantial material especially when worked or altered to serve a particular purpose a block of ice blocks of cheese : such as

a : the piece of wood on which the neck of a person condemned to be beheaded is laid for execution put her neck on the block

b : a mold or form on which articles are shaped or displayed a wooden hat block

c : a hollow rectangular building unit usually of artificial material a wall of concrete blocks

d : a lightweight usually cubical and solid wooden or plastic building toy that is usually provided in sets children playing with blocks

e : the casting that contains the cylinders of an internal combustion engine engine block

f sports : starting block the first swimmer off the blocks a slow start out of the blocks

2a : obstacle putting a block on any future development

b sports : an obstruction of an opponent's play especially, football : a halting or impeding of the progress or movement of an opponent by use of the body a block by the right tackle

c medical

(1) : interruption of normal physiological function (as of a tissue or organ) especially : heart block The patient presented with a block.

(2) : local anesthesia (as by injection) produced by interruption of the flow of impulses along a nerve

d psychology : interruption or cessation especially of train of thought by competing thoughts or psychological suppression a mental block an emotional block — compare writer's block

3 slang : head sense 1 threatened to knock his block off

4 : a wooden or metal case enclosing one or more pulleys and having a hook, eye, or strap by which it may be attached

5 : a piece of material (such as wood or linoleum) having on its surface a hand-cut design from which impressions are to be printed wooden blocks used for printing books

6a(1) : a usually rectangular space (as in a city) enclosed by streets and occupied by or intended for buildings She lived on our block.

(2) : the distance along one of the sides of such a block The store is two blocks down on the right. lived a block away from the school

b(1) : a large building divided into separate functional units an apartment block

(2) : a line of row houses

(3) : a distinctive part of a building or integrated group of buildings a block of classrooms

7 : a platform from which property is sold at auction went on the block and sold for nearly three million dollars

8a : a quantity, number, or section of things dealt with as a unit bought a large block of shares a half-hour block of music a block of text

b : bloc sense 2 popular among several voting blocks

around the block

: through many experiences used especially to say that someone is no longer young or has become knowledgeable, capable, or mature because of past experience … it seemed possible that to fall for a woman who had been around the block a few times might be to rob himself of much of the purely ornamental elements … of first love.— Michael Chabon

on the block

: for sale The business is now on the block.


blocked; blocking; blocks

Definition of block (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1a : to make unsuitable for passage or progress by obstruction The road was blocked by a rock slide.

b archaic : blockade … a city … besieged and blocked about …— John Milton

c : to hinder the passage, progress, or accomplishment of by or as if by interposing an obstruction The ambulance was blocked by traffic. senators trying to block passage of the bill

d : to shut off from view The building blocks our view of the ocean.

e : to interfere usually legitimately with (an opponent, an opponent's shot, etc.) in various games or sports practice blocking our opponents blocked the shot with her hand

f : to prevent normal functioning or action of block a nerve with novocaine

g : to restrict the exchange of (currency, checks, etc.)

2 : to mark or indicate the outline or chief lines of block out a design

3 : to shape on, with, or as if with a block (see block entry 1 sense 1b) block a hat

4 : to secure, support, or provide with a block (see block entry 1 sense 1) blocking a plate for printing block up the rear wheels

5 : to work out (the principal positions and movements) for the performers (as of a play) also : to work out the players' positions and movements for (a scene or a play) often used with out block out a scene before the actors arrive on set

6 typesetting : to make (two or more lines of writing or type) flush at the left or at both left and right

7 golf : to hit (a ball or shot) inaccurately toward the right from a right-handed swing or toward the left from a left-handed swing : push … you get excited, don't finish your backswing and block your next drive into the foliage.— Thomas Boswell

intransitive verb

sports : to interfere usually legitimately with an opponent : to block an opponent needs to practice blocking


biographical name
\ˈbläk \

Definition of Block (Entry 3 of 3)

Herbert Lawrence 1909–2001 Herblock \ˈhər-ˌbläk \ American editorial cartoonist

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Other Words from block


blocker noun

Choose the Right Synonym for block


hinder, impede, obstruct, block mean to interfere with the activity or progress of. hinder stresses causing harmful or annoying delay or interference with progress. rain hindered the climb impede implies making forward progress difficult by clogging, hampering, or fettering. tight clothing that impedes movement obstruct implies interfering with something in motion or in progress by the sometimes intentional placing of obstacles in the way. the view was obstructed by billboards block implies complete obstruction to passage or progress. a landslide blocked the road

Examples of block in a Sentence


a wall built out of concrete blocks We took a walk around the block. She lived on our block. The store is three blocks down on the right. Our hotel is a block from the ocean.


There's an accident blocking the road. The entrance was blocked by a gate. Blood clots have completely blocked one of his arteries. The protesters blocked the road with parked vehicles. The ambulance was blocked by cars in the road. An accident was blocking traffic. Could you move to the left, please. You're blocking my light. a shield that blocks the wind Several senators are trying to block the passage of the bill. His vote blocked the treaty.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Sanford police responded to the 700 block of West 1st Street shortly before 6 p.m., spokesman Ronny Neal said. Michael Williams,, "Man injured in Sanford shooting, police say," 15 July 2018 Berners-Lee told me that morning in Washington, blocks from the White House. Krista Stevens, Longreads, "Accountability for the Algorithms," 13 July 2018 Deputies with the Harris County Sheriff's Office were called to the 14000 block of Edgeboro Street on Thursday afternoon. Jay R. Jordan, Houston Chronicle, "Shooting involving children leaves one man dead in northeast Harris County," 13 July 2018 Police responded to the 8500 block of Winton Road for a report of a suspicious vehicle this week. Michael Baldwin,, "Woman left kids in hot car near bar, police say," 12 July 2018 After the shooting stopped, the Camry crashed into a fence behind the 4700 block of Baring Avenue while the suspects fled on foot, according to the Fife. Becky Jacobs, Post-Tribune, "Man fatally shot in East Chicago alley, police say," 11 July 2018 LeBron James and John Wall are the best at making chasedown blocks that draw audible gasps from spectators. J. Michael, Indianapolis Star, "Jaren Jackson Jr. sits in middle of Grizzlies' efforts to rebuild grit-and-grind identity," 11 July 2018 Sergeant Brian Becker of the Walpole police said officers responded to the crash in the 500 block of High Street at 10:45 p.m. The vehicle crashed into a tree, Captain Paul Carter of the Walpole Fire Department said. Margeaux Sippell,, "Medfield man killed in motorcycle crash in Walpole," 14 July 2018 In the first shooting, which occurred about 8:45 p.m. Friday, a 38-year-old man was shot inside a home in the 20000 block of Charest, on the city's east side. Lori Higgins, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Police investigate two fatal shootings on city's east side," 14 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The law also prohibited homes or developments from blocking public access to beaches and created the California Coastal Commission to enforce these mandates. Peter Fimrite,, "Fight brewing over Privates Beach in Santa Cruz County, which charges $100 yearly fee," 12 July 2018 Officials say some of the reasons given by the U.S. government for blocking appellate body appointments look more like excuses. Simon Nixon, WSJ, "Trump Puts the WTO on the Ropes," 11 July 2018 This reduces the efficiency of the process dramatically by blocking the catalysts or electrodes. Charles W. Dunnill, Scientific American, "Method of Making Oxygen from Water in Zero Gravity Raises Hope for Long-Distance Space Travel," 10 July 2018 The Cleveland Clinic explains that NSAIDs work by blocking the production of body chemicals that cause inflammation. Shanelle Drakeford, Allure, "How to Alleviate Period Cramps, According to Doctors," 8 July 2018 Unions could funnel specialist data work to their members and even organise strikes, for instance by blocking access to exert influence on a company employing its members’ data. The Economist, "What if people were paid for their data?," 7 July 2018 The proposal would stop internet service providers from blocking, speeding up or slowing down websites and video, as well as charging websites fees for fast lanes., "Today: Pruitt’s Swamp Song," 6 July 2018 And there’s an emerging movement of judicial conservatives, championed prominently by Donald Trump’s appellate appointee Don Willett, which wants the courts to become much more aggressive in blocking economic regulation. Dylan Matthews, Vox, "Court-packing, Democrats’ nuclear option for the Supreme Court, explained," 2 July 2018 Five people were arrested outside an ICE office in Dallas for blocking a road. CBS News, "Protesters flood U.S. cities to fight Trump immigration policy," 30 June 2018

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


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1602, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for block


Middle English blok, from Middle French & Middle Dutch; Middle French bloc, from Middle Dutch blok; akin to Old High German bloh block


see block entry 1

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Learn More about block

Dictionary Entries near block



Bloch wall





Statistics for block

Last Updated

15 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for block

The first known use of block was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for block



English Language Learners Definition of block

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a solid piece of material (such as rock or wood) that has flat sides and is usually square or rectangular in shape

: an area of land surrounded by four streets in a city

: the length of one city block



English Language Learners Definition of block (Entry 2 of 2)

: to be placed in front of (something, such as a road or path) so that people or things cannot pass through

: to place something in front of (something, such as a road) so that people or things cannot go into the area

: to stop (someone or something) from moving through or going by


\ˈbläk \

Kids Definition of block

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a solid piece of some material usually with one or more flat sides a block of ice

2 : an area of land surrounded by four streets in a city

3 : the length of one side of a city block

4 : a number of things thought of as forming a group or unit a block of seats

5 : a large building divided into separate houses or shops an apartment block

6 : an action that stops or slows down an opponent (as in football)

7 : something that prevents a person from thinking about certain things a mental block

8 : something that stops or makes passage or progress difficult : obstruction

9 : a case enclosing one or more pulleys


blocked; blocking

Kids Definition of block (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to stop or make passage through or through to difficult : obstruct A gate blocked the entrance.

2 : to stop or make the passage of difficult An accident is blocking traffic. Opponents blocked the bill in Congress.

3 : to make an opponent's movement (as in football) difficult


noun, often attributive
\ˈbläk \

Medical Definition of block 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : interruption of normal physiological function of a tissue or organ respiratory block due to carbon monoxide especially : heart block

3 : interruption of a train of thought by competing thoughts or psychological suppression

Medical Definition of block (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to prevent normal functioning of (a bodily element) block a nerve with novocaine

2 : to obstruct the effect of a carboxyl group blocked by esterification

intransitive verb

: to experience or exhibit psychological blocking or blockage

Other Words from block

blocker \-ər \ noun

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Comments on block

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


to reject or criticize sharply

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