Definition of baulk verb from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    (British English) (usually North American English balk) verb
    BrE BrE//bɔːk//
    ; NAmE NAmE//bɔːk//
    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they baulk
    BrE BrE//bɔːk//
    ; NAmE NAmE//bɔːk//
    he / she / it baulks
    BrE BrE//bɔːks//
    ; NAmE NAmE//bɔːks//
    past simple baulked
    BrE BrE//bɔːkt//
    ; NAmE NAmE//bɔːkt//
    past participle baulked
    BrE BrE//bɔːkt//
    ; NAmE NAmE//bɔːkt//
    -ing form baulking
    BrE BrE//ˈbɔːkɪŋ//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈbɔːkɪŋ//
    jump to other results
  1. 1[intransitive] baulk (at something) to be unwilling to do something or become involved in something because it is difficult, dangerous, etc. Many parents may baulk at the idea of paying $100 for a pair of shoes. He baulked for a moment. ‘I can’t afford it,’ he finally admitted.
  2. 2[intransitive] baulk (at something) (of a horse) to stop suddenly and refuse to jump a fence, etc.
  3. 3[transitive] baulk somebody (of something) [usually passive] (formal) to prevent somebody from getting something or doing something She looked like a lion baulked of its prey.
  4. Word Originlate Old English balc, from Old Norse bálkr ‘partition’. The original use was ‘unploughed ridge’, later ‘land left unploughed by mistake’, hence ‘blunder, omission’, giving rise to the verb use ‘miss (a chance)’. A late Middle English sense ‘obstacle’ gave rise to the verb senses ‘hesitate’ and ‘hinder’.