To Balk At

The verb to balk (which is nearly always paired with the preposition at) means to be unwilling to or to take exception to.

  • I don't ever balk at being considered a Motown person because Motown is the greatest musical event that ever happened in the history of music. (Smokey Robinson)
  • Presidents with strong nerves are decisive. They don't balk at unpopular decisions. They are willing to make people angry. (Fred Barnes)
Balk can also be used as a noun with the following meanings:
  • A beam of timber that has been roughly squared.
  • An unlawful action my a baseball pitcher to deceive a base runner.
  • An unploughed ridge between furrows.
  • An area on a billiard table.
  • A miss or a failure.


Baulk is a British spelling of balk. Most Canadians prefer balk, and Australians prefer baulk.

  • Anyone who lives outside of London would baulk at the cost of living. ()


The noun bulk describes a large mass or the greater quantity of something. It can also be used as verb meaning to make something bigger. As a verb, it is usually paired with the preposition up.

  • I approached the bulk of my schoolwork as a chore rather than an intellectual adventure. (Steven Chu)
  • The mind is like an iceberg. It floats with one-seventh of its bulk above water. (Sigmund Freud)
  • (Here, bulk is a noun.)
  • For the last 10 years, I have had to bulk up for roles. As I'm naturally skinny, I have eaten many chickens! (Hugh Jackman)
  • (Here, bulk is a verb.)

A Quick Test