\ ˈbȯk How to pronounce balk (audio) , sometimes ˈbȯlk \
balked; balking; balks

Definition of balk

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to refuse abruptly used with at Congress balked at putting up the money— Thomas Fleming
2 : to stop short and refuse to proceed The horse balked at the jump and threw the rider.
3 sports : to commit a balk (see balk entry 2 sense 1)

transitive verb

1 : to check or stop by or as if by an obstacle : block … had neither been balked nor been frightened …— Francis Hackett
2 archaic : to pass over or by … such an age as ours balks no expense …— William Cowper



Definition of balk (Entry 2 of 2)

1a baseball : an occurrence in which a pitcher stops suddenly or makes an illegal movement after starting to throw a pitch The pitcher was charged with a balk.
b sports : failure of a competitor to complete a motion (such as a jump, vault, or dive)
2 billiards
a : the space behind the balkline on a billiard table
b : any of the outside divisions made by the balklines
4 : beam, rafter
5 : a ridge of land left unplowed as a dividing line or through carelessness

Other Words from balk


balker noun

Choose the Right Synonym for balk


frustrate, thwart, foil, baffle, balk mean to check or defeat another's plan or block achievement of a goal. frustrate implies making vain or ineffectual all efforts however vigorous or persistent. frustrated attempts at government reform thwart suggests frustration or checking by crossing or opposing. the army thwarted his attempt at a coup foil implies checking or defeating so as to discourage further effort. foiled by her parents, he stopped trying to see her baffle implies frustration by confusing or puzzling. baffled by the maze of rules and regulations balk suggests the interposing of obstacles or hindrances. officials felt that legal restrictions had balked their efforts to control crime

Examples of balk in a Sentence

Verb The horse balked and would not jump the fence. The runner on third base tried to make the pitcher balk. Noun the extravagant centerpiece proved to be a balk to the flow of conversation
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Opponents balk at the idea that state courts cannot review election laws approved by the legislature, just like any other law. John Fritze, USA TODAY, 30 June 2022 The book’s several critics seem to balk at its ambition more than its research. Virginia Heffernan, Wired, 11 July 2022 That could mean that some consumers will begin to balk at higher prices through the remainder of the year. Will Daniel, Fortune, 2 July 2022 As people have begun to balk at the sky-high prices, and some switch plans away from flying, demand has softened. Dominic Gates, Anchorage Daily News, 15 June 2022 But the euphoria fades as component costs rise, workers demand higher wages, and consumers begin to balk at more expensive goods and services. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 14 June 2022 Her husband, Robert, begins to balk at continuing to be a stay-at-home father, and appears to resent that Emma’s salary supports the family. Sun Sentinel, 25 Apr. 2022 King, I-Maine, a Maine independent who caucuses with Democrats, is the latest senator to balk at ending the rule, which requires 60 votes to advance legislation or bring bills to a final vote. Arkansas Online, 25 Oct. 2021 Oil refineries across the country are being retired and converted to other uses as owners balk at making costly upgrades and America’s pivot away from fossil fuels leaves their future uncertain. Evan Halper, Anchorage Daily News, 21 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The Angels got a break in looking to tie the score when Fletcher and Rengifo advanced when Perez was called for a balk. Sarah Valenzuela, Los Angeles Times, 29 July 2022 The Rays lost in extras to the Reds on Friday when Wisler was called for a balk in the 10th inning. Katie Mcinerney,, 11 July 2022 For the second year in a row, Oregon turned to Kolby Somers early and the closer was called for a critical balk. James Crepea | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, 5 June 2022 Then a balk from left-hander Daniel Norris brought home a third run in the eighth, propelling the pitching staff to a comfortable outing after winning seven of the previous nine games by two runs or fewer. Andy Kostka, Baltimore Sun, 13 July 2022 Bell called it the play that won the game for the Reds, who scored in the bottom of the 10th inning on a walk-off balk against the Rays. Charlie Goldsmith, The Enquirer, 9 July 2022 The Aggies converted two walks, a balk, two singles and a throwing error into three runs in the third, the first two off Irish starter Liam Simon (2-1). Eric Olson, Chicago Tribune, 21 June 2022 Then Usher stole second, advanced to third on Rackers’ second balk of the inning, then scored on his third, putting U of L in front 3-2. Brett Dawson, The Courier-Journal, 3 June 2022 In the fourth, Brieske's balk inadvertently plated Tampa Bay's third run for a 3-0 advantage. Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press, 18 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'balk.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of balk


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 5

History and Etymology for balk

Noun and Verb

Middle English balke, from Old English balca; akin to Old High German balko beam, Latin fulcire to prop, Greek phalanx log, phalanx

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Time Traveler for balk

Time Traveler

The first known use of balk was before the 12th century

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Last Updated

6 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Balk.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for balk


\ ˈbȯk How to pronounce balk (audio) \
balked; balking

Kids Definition of balk

1 : to stop short and refuse to go
2 : to refuse to do something often suddenly He balked at paying the bill.

More from Merriam-Webster on balk

Nglish: Translation of balk for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of balk for Arabic Speakers


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