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to stop, as at an obstacle, and refuse to proceed or to do something specified (usually followed by at):
He balked at making the speech.
(of a horse, mule, etc.) to stop short and stubbornly refuse to go on.
Baseball. to commit a balk.
to place an obstacle in the way of; hinder; thwart:
a sudden reversal that balked her hopes.
Archaic. to let slip; fail to use:
to balk an opportunity.
a check or hindrance; defeat; disappointment.
a strip of land left unplowed.
a crossbeam in the roof of a house that unites and supports the rafters; tie beam.
any heavy timber used for building purposes.
Baseball. an illegal motion by a pitcher while one or more runners are on base, as a pitch in which there is either an insufficient or too long a pause after the windup or stretch, a pretended throw to first or third base or to the batter with one foot on the pitcher’s rubber, etc., resulting in a penalty advancing the runner or runners one base.
Billiards. any of the eight panels or compartments lying between the cushions of the table and the balklines.
Obsolete. a miss, slip, or failure:
to make a balk.
in balk, inside any of the spaces in back of the balklines on a billiard table.
Historical Examples

We cannot steam any faster, and we are baulking the fire of our friends.
The British Navy Book Cyril Field

Then Z. turned and made for home as fast as his baulking engine would allow.
Great Britain at War Jeffery Farnol

But perhaps you have never filled out the last part—still back at that baulking place.
Quiet Talks on Following the Christ S. D. Gordon

The secret he longed to learn, the seal and confirmation of his hard-won faith, or empty, baulking nothingness?
Stella Fregelius H. Rider Haggard

This baulking of the sentiment of love, whipped up, if anything, the longing for justice in Mr. Ventnor.
Five Tales John Galsworthy

On the whole, it is I who should be grateful to you for not baulking me in my scheme and for letting me have my own way.
Mr. Marx’s Secret E. Phillips Oppenheim

This is apparently intended as a piece of humour, in catching or baulking the audience.
The Captiva and The Mostellaria Plautus

Go to your work and be strong, halting not in your ways, baulking the end half-won for an instant dole of praise.
A Song of the English Rudyard Kipling

One last word of advice: pause a second time, I entreat, before you think of baulking Dr. Nikola.’
A Bid for Fortune Guy Boothby

Horses are taught the dangerous vice of baulking, or jibbing, as it is called in England, by improper management.
A New Illustrated Edition of J. S. Rarey’s Art of Taming Horses J. S. Rarey

(intransitive) usually foll by at. to stop short, esp suddenly or unexpectedly; jib: the horse balked at the jump
(intransitive) foll by at. to turn away abruptly; recoil: he balked at the idea of murder
(transitive) to thwart, check, disappoint, or foil: he was balked in his plans
(transitive) to avoid deliberately: he balked the question
(transitive) to miss unintentionally
a roughly squared heavy timber beam
a timber tie beam of a roof
an unploughed ridge to prevent soil erosion or mark a division on common land
an obstacle; hindrance; disappointment
(baseball) an illegal motion by a pitcher towards the plate or towards the base when there are runners on base, esp without delivering the ball
(billiards) Also (US) balk

the space, usually 29 inches deep, between the baulk line and the bottom cushion
(in baulk-line games) one of the spaces between the cushions and the baulk lines
in baulk, inside one of these spaces

(archaeol) a strip of earth left between excavation trenches for the study of the complete stratigraphy of a site
(croquet) either of two lines (A baulk and B baulk) at diagonally opposite ends of the court, from which the ball is struck into play
verb, noun
a variant spelling of balk

Old English balca “ridge, bank,” from or influenced by Old Norse balkr “ridge of land,” especially between two plowed furrows, both from Proto-Germanic *balkan-, *belkan- (cf. Old Saxon balko, Danish bjelke, Old Frisian balka, Old High German balcho, German Balken “beam, rafter”), from PIE *bhelg- “beam, plank” (cf. Latin fulcire “to prop up, support,” fulcrum “bedpost;” Lithuanian balziena “cross-bar;” and possibly Greek phalanx “trunk, log, line of battle”). Modern senses are figurative, representing the balk as a hindrance or obstruction (see balk (v.)). Baseball sense is first attested 1845.

late 14c., “to leave an unplowed ridge when plowing,” from balk (n.). Extended meaning “to omit, intentionally neglect” is mid-15c. Most modern senses are figurative, from the notion of a balk in the fields as a hindrance or obstruction: sense of “stop short” (as a horse confronted with an obstacle) is late 15c.; that of “to refuse” is 1580s. Related: Balked; balking.

alternative spelling of balk, especially in billiards, in reference to a bad shot.


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