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balk

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balk

Postby William Hupy » Mon Jul 22, 2013 11:35 am

Interesting that this word started as a noun for a ridge between two plowed furrows and is entirely Germanic in origin. I can picture a couple of oxen balking at crossing a heavy mound of earth.
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Re: balk

Postby Philip Hudson » Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:30 pm

Should the Good Doctor choose balk as a Good Word, he might praise William for not balking at suggesting it. It would be a good choice. The word has taken a rather wobbly course in definition from being: the ridge between two furrows in a field; to a piece of timber; to a refusal or hesitation to move forward; to what a baseball pitcher does (I have no idea what a baseball pitcher does).

I remember my dad calling the ridge beam of a roof the balk. My experience has been with draft animals, particularly mules, which were said to be balky. In the second grade, I balked at writing a letter to Santa because, in my iconoclastic home, there was no Santa. Don’t pity me. Being odd makes one strong.

The word came into English from Proto-Gmc. with lots of cognates in many languages, mostly as beams of wood or wooden structures. It moved through Italian to us as balcony.
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Re: balk

Postby Perry Lassiter » Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:49 pm

A pitcher balks when he goes into his windup, starts to throw, and then stops. Wikipedia quotes a multipllicity of rules that can lead to balks. This year in the major leagues faking a throw to third and pitching to first instead is a balk. In most balks any runners advance one base. I pity the umps who have to digest all the pettifoggery. Come to think of it, pettifoggery might be a good word in itself.
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Re: balk

Postby Slava » Mon Jul 22, 2013 4:42 pm

Perry Lassiter wrote:Come to think of it, pettifoggery might be a good word in itself.

Not exactly the word you are looking for, but perhaps this will suit.
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Re: balk

Postby gailr » Mon Jul 22, 2013 8:46 pm

Philip Hudson wrote:...the ridge between two furrows in a field; to a piece of timber; ... I remember my dad calling the ridge beam of a roof the balk.

* is curious and checks the googles *
bulkhead
bulkhead (n.)
late 15c., with head (n.); the first element perhaps from bulk "framework projecting in the front of a shop" (1580s), which is perhaps from Old Norse bolkr "beam, balk" (see balk (n.)).

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