Balk, Baulk, and Bulk

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Difference between "Balk," "Baulk," and "Bulk"?

"Balk," "baulk," and "bulk" are easy to confuse.
  • "Balk" (most commonly seen as "to balk at") means "to be unwilling to" or "to take exception to." For example:
    • He balked at presenting his idea to the company. ()
  • "Baulk" is the British English version of "balk."
    • He baulked at presenting his idea to the company. ()
  • "Bulk" means "a large mass or quantity." It also means "the greater part of something." For example:
    • He gets his bulk from eating chicken.
    • I made the bulk of the payment this afternoon.
    balk, baulk, or bulk?

    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.

    Example sentences with "balk":
    • 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. (Singer Smokey Robinson)
    • Presidents with strong nerves are decisive. They don't balk at unpopular decisions. They are willing to make people angry. (Singer 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 by 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

    "Baulk" is a British spelling of "balk." Most Canadians prefer "balk," while most Australians prefer "baulk."

    Example sentences with "baulk":
    • Those who live outside of London baulk at the cost of living. ()

    Bulk

    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."

    Example sentences with "bulk":
    • I approached the bulk of my schoolwork as a chore rather than an intellectual adventure. (Physicist 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! (Actor Hugh Jackman)
    • (Here, "bulk" is a verb.)

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    See Also

    adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? How to write "dos and don'ts" who's or whose? The top 20 misspelled words What are prepositions? List of easily confused words

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