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Bloc or Block?

The Quick Answer
What is the difference between bloc and block?

A bloc is a group or an alliance (usually of countries) united by a common interest.

Block has lots of meanings (see below).

Bloc and Block

Writers sometimes confuse bloc and block. Although they sound identical, their meanings are different. That said, block has many meanings, one of which is close in meaning to bloc. When it means a collection of things, block is very similar in meaning to bloc (which denotes a group or an alliance).

Bloc

The noun, bloc means a group or an alliance united by a common interest. The members of a bloc are willing participants. Bloc most commonly refers to a group of nations, but it can be a group of anything that has decided to form a team. Examples:
  • Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Chile have removed all trade tariffs among them, cementing a bloc that the four hope will encourage free trade between Latin America and the rest of the world.
  • The combined economies of the Eurozone countries grew by 0.3% in the second quarter of this year, taking the bloc out of recession after 18 months, according to figures published today.

Block

As a noun, block has many meanings, the most common of which are:

A large solid piece of material (e.g. stone, wood), typically with flat surfaces.
  • When building the pyramids, they lifted the granite blocks using counterweights.
  • Have you eaten that whole block of cheese already?
A place where someone's head is rested prior to beheading or a small slab (often wooden) for cutting and preparing food.
  • Without saying a word, she placed her head on the chopping block.
  • You'll be for the chopping block
  • (It is also used figuratively. This means you'll be in trouble.)
  • Use a chopping block for those onions so you don't mark the table.
A frame with footrests used by sprinters to improve their start (usually blocks).
  • He is exceptionally quick out of the blocks for such a large man.
The main part of an internal combustion engine which houses the pistons.
  • The oil leak has caused the engine to overheat. I am afraid you have melted the engine block.
A building comprising flats (or apartments).
  • It's an ugly block of apartments, but the views are amazing.
A group of buildings bounded by four streets.
  • There's a shoe shop in the next block.
  • We only live a few blocks away.
  • (Note: Often there are no "blocks" involved. The term block has come to mean a rough distance, which is usually between 100-400m.)
A large quantity of things regarded as a unit (i.e., a collection).
  • I have purchased a large block of shares.
  • If the Business Improvement District (BID) was as good for business as they claim, it would not have required the councilís block of votes to force through its renewal.
Note: This is the meaning which is closest to bloc, which means a group or an alliance (usually of willing participants).

An act of blocking someone or something.
  • If it were not for that stunning block from Wells, it would almost certainly have been a goal.
  • The sun reflects off the sea too, so apply plenty of block.
An area of colour/color (usually on a flat surface).
  • The spiral effect radiates from a large block of blue in the middle of the painting.
As a verb, to block means:

To obstruct or prevent movement or flow.
  • The debris from the crash blocked the traffic for 10 hours.
  • The mixture of hair and grime will block the drains.
  • You are blocking the light.
  • It has already blocked the overflow pipe, and it is now blocking the main outlet.
(Note: The past participle is blocked, and the present participle is blocking. They come from the verb to block, and they are being used as adjectives.)

To prevent an activity or planned activity.
  • You can get as many signatures as you like. The boss will block your proposal.
  • Don't block my path, you horrid little cretin.
Beware

Block of Voters or Bloc of Voters?

It is possible to have a block of voters and a bloc of voters. Here's the difference:
  • With a block of voters, the voters would be grouped according to a common factor (e.g., the way they voted, their age, their class).
  • With a bloc of voters, the voters would have actively grouped themselves in order to have an effect towards a common interest.
Note

Writers' Bloc - A Play on Words

There is a website called "Writers Bloc." This is a play on words. It denotes a group of writers who have come together to help each other.

("Writers' block" is condition in which an author loses the ability to produce new work.)
Interactive Test