From Middle English balke, Old English balca, either from or influenced by Old Norse bálkr (“partition, ridge of land”), from Proto-Germanic *balkô. Cognate with German Balken (“balk”), Italian balcone (“balcony”).
balk (plural balks)
- ridge, an unplowed strip of land.
- beam, crossbeam.
- (sports) deceptive motion; feint
- (archaic) to pass over or by.
- to stop, check, block.
- to stop short and refuse to go on.
- to refuse suddenly.
Probably from Dutch balken (“to bray, bawl”).
- To indicate to fishermen, by shouts or signals from shore, the direction taken by the shoals of herring.
Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
- Rhymes: -ɑlk