First Name
in the U.S.
since 1880
Last Name
in the U.S.
in 2010
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Meaning and Origin

What does the name Balk mean? Find out below.

Origin and Meaning of Balk

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Webster's Unabridged Dictionary
noun Balk
  1. A ridge of land left unplowed between furrows, or at the end of a field; a piece missed by the plow slipping aside."Bad plowmen made balks of such ground." [Fuller.]
  2. A great beam, rafter, or timber; esp., the tie-beam of a house. The loft above was called “the balks.”"Tubs hanging in the balks." [Chaucer.]
  3. [Mil] One of the beams connecting the successive supports of a trestle bridge or bateau bridge.
  4. A hindrance or disappointment; a check."A balk to the confidence of the bold undertaker." [South.]
  5. A sudden and obstinate stop; a failure.
  6. [Baseball] A deceptive gesture of the pitcher, as if to deliver the ball. It is illegal and is penalized by allowing the runners on base to advance one base.

Etymology: AS. balca beam, ridge; akin to Icel. bālkr partition, bjālki beam, OS. balko, G. balken; cf. Gael. balc ridge of earth between two furrows. Cf. Balcony Balk (v. t.), 3d Bulk

verb Balk
  1. To leave or make balks in.(Obs)
  2. To leave heaped up; to heap up in piles.(Obs)"Ten thousand bold Scots, two and twenty knights, Balk'd in their own blood did Sir Walter see." [Shak.]
  3. To omit, miss, or overlook by chance.(Obs)
  4. To miss intentionally; to avoid; to shun; to refuse; to let go by; to shirk.(Obs. or Obsolescent)"By reason of the contagion then in London, we balked the inns." [Evelyn.]"Sick he is, and keeps his bed, and balks his meat." [Bp. Hall.]"Nor doth he any creature balk, But lays on all he meeteth." [Drayton.]
  5. To disappoint; to frustrate; to foil; to baffle; to thwart; as, to balk expectation."They shall not balk my entrance." [Byron.]

Etymology: From Balk a beam; orig. to put a balk or beam in one's way, in order to stop or hinder. Cf., for sense 2, AS. on balcan legan to lay in heaps

verb Balk
  1. To engage in contradiction; to be in opposition.(Obs)"In strifeful terms with him to balk." [Spenser.]
  2. To stop abruptly and stand still obstinately; to jib; to stop short; to swerve; as, the horse balks ."Ne ever ought but of their true loves talkt, Ne ever for rebuke or blame of any balkt."
  3. [Baseball] to commit a balk{6}; -- of a pitcher.

Note: ☞ This has been regarded as an Americanism, but it occurs in Spenser's “Faërie Queene,” Book IV., 10, xxv.

verb Balk
To indicate to fishermen, by shouts or signals from shore, the direction taken by the shoals of herring.

Etymology: Prob. from D. balken to bray, bawl

Other Dictionary Sources
  1. An illegal pitching motion while runners are on base
  2. One of several parallel sloping beams that support a roof
  3. Something immaterial that interferes with or delays action or progress
  4. The area on a billiard table behind the balkline ("a player with ball in hand must play from the balk")
  5. Refuse to comply

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 Dutch balk (“balk”), German Balken (“balk”), Italian balcone (“balcony”).

  1. An uncultivated ridge formed in the open field system, caused by the action of ploughing.
  2. (archaeology) the wall of earth at the edge of an excavation
  3. beam, crossbeam
  4. A hindrance or disappointment; a check.
  5. A sudden and obstinate stop; a failure.
  6. (sports) deceptive motion; feint
    1. (baseball) an illegal motion by the pitcher, intended to deceive a runner
    2. (badminton) motion used to deceive an opponent during a serve

Probably from Dutch balken (“to bray, bawl”).

    balk was also found in the following language(s): Dutch and Swedish

    Notable Persons With the Last Name Balk

    Fairuza Balk is an actress and actor. She has been prominent since 1983. Fairuza was given the name Fairuza Alejandra Feldthouse on May 21st, 1974 in Point Reyes, California, United States.


    Josh Balk is a senior director of food policy for the humane society of the united states, the humane society of the united states, and senior director of food policy forthe humane society of the united states. Josh was born on September 24th, 1979.


    Alfred Balk was a nonfiction writer and editor. Alfred was born on July 24th, 1930 in Oskaloosa, Iowa. He left this life on November 25th, 2010.


    Christianne was born in 1953.


    Jordi Balk is a soccer player for the FC Oss, FC Utrecht, and Ross County F.C. Jordi was born on April 26th, 1994 in Cothen.


    Wulfe was born on November 24th, 1955 in St Andrews.


    Where is the name Balk popular?

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    Popularity of Balk as a last name

    The map shows the absolute popularity of the name Balk as a last name in each of the states. See other popular names in Michigan, New York, or Iowa.

    Common first names for Balk

    Ethnicity Distribution

    Ethnicity Balk U.S.
      White 66.64% 64.26%
      African American 0.00% 11.96%
      Asian, Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander 28.78% 4.85%
      American Indian and Alaska Native 0.00% 0.69%
      Two or More Ethnicities 1.49% 1.76%
      Hispanic or Latino 2.35% 16.26%

    Of Last Name Balk

    People with the last name Balk are most frequently White or Asian, Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander

    Entire United States

    Fun Facts about the name Balk

    • How Popular is the name Balk? As a last name Balk was the 9,991st most popular name in 2010.
    • How unique is the name Balk? Out of 5,933,561 records in the U.S. Social Security Administration public data, the first name Balk was not present. It is possible the name you are searching has less than five occurrences per year.
    • Weird things about the name Balk: Your name in reverse order is Klab. A random rearrangement of the letters in your name (anagram) will give Blak. How do you pronounce that?
    • How many people have the last name Balk? In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau surveyed 3,228 people with the last name Balk.
    • How likely are you to meet someone with the last name of Balk? If you manage to meet 100,000 people in your life, chances are that 1 of them will have Balk as their last name.

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    • Sources:
    • U.S. Census Bureau: Frequently Occurring Surnames from the Census 2000 (public domain).
    • 1913 Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary via the Collaborative International Dictionary of English (License)
    • Other Dictionary Sources: WordNet 3.1 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University (License).
    • Wiktionary: Titles and License.
    • Notable persons via Wikipedia: Titles and License. Click each image for the attribution information.