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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

Cox won’t ride him because he baulks, and so he has come into my stable.
Phineas Redux Anthony Trollope

Then upon the latter are laid “baulks” and upon them the flooring as usual.
The Romance of War Inventions Thomas W. Corbin

The pairs of rafts are joined by three baulks 15 ft. long laid in parallel grooves in the framing.
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 4, Part 3 Various

A tackle hooked to one of the baulks of timber forming the staith was being hauled at by five women and two men!
Yorkshire Painted And Described Gordon Home

For a single instant the stockade became outlined, and Dick thought he saw heads peeping up above the baulks of timber.
With Wolseley to Kumasi F.S. Brereton

The hole was soon dug and the anchor deposited therein, planks and baulks of timber being laid upon it as before.
Across the Spanish Main Harry Collingwood

The party wall had already been removed, and the structure above rested on baulks and beams.
The Hole in the Wall Arthur Morrison

So these “baulks” are made like planks, very oblong if looked at endwise, also thinner at the ends than in the middle.
The Romance of War Inventions Thomas W. Corbin

Before leaving the hut we jammed the window up with baulks of timber, to the best of our ability, in the storm and darkness.
South! Sir Ernest Shackleton

The marks of teeth and claws on some of the baulks of the palisade showed us that the visitor had climbed over.
Indo-China and Its Primitive People Henry Baudesson

(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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