1 : to block the free development of : frustrate
2 a : to cheat out of something valuable : defraud
b : to evade payment of or to
3 : to slip away from
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."
The investigation revealed that the garage had been bilking motorists for repairs that had never been made.
"Two women were convicted Thursday of taking part in a scheme in which unnecessary medical procedures were carried out in order to bilk insurance companies out of more than $50 million." - Sean Emery, Orange County Register (California), March 7, 2015
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Name That Synonym
What is the name of the card game that begins with "e" and is a synonym of bilk meaning "to cheat"? The answer is …
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