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December 06, 2021


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Wondering if it is used in pool (billiards)? It is in snooker and billiards in UK and Commonwealth. It is the area of the table furthest away from the pack of reds.

Edward: I've played a little pool--but not snooker or billiards--but never heard "balk" in that context. Wikipedia informs me, though, that "balk" is part of the vocabulary of pool. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossary_of_cue_sports_terms#B

This recent additional definition, turns balk into a "Janus word", yieldings two opposing meanings. If my boss sends me into a meeting with a client and advises me "Don't balk at his ideas", what am I to do, resist or accede?

Spielberg will have it two ways as well; he is about to release "West Side Story" for a minimum 45-day theatrical run and then it is expected to stream on Disney+.

On the other hand, this new usage of balk could simply be a mistake on the part of the writer(s). In this age of disintermediation (a fun, relatively new word) where anyone can publish without resort to an editor of any type, I often see writers simply using the wrong word, with no one to tell them the word they should have used.

The billiards usage that I'm familiar with uses "balk line" for the line (also called the "headstring") behind which the cue ball must be placed for a legal "break shot." Snooker--that is, snooker commentators on British TV--refers to the area behind this line as "the balk area" or "balk," as in "leave the ball in balk." And one variety of carom billiards is called "balkline" (usually one word) because the cue ball must cross this line to qualify a shot as permissible.

This stanza from W,H. Auden's poem "Under Which Lyre" presents the reader with two opportunities to choose between unpronounced and pronounced "l", though with a strong bias toward choosing the same for both instances:

If he would leave the self alone,
Apollo's welcome to the throne,
Fasces and falcons;
He loves to rule, has always done it;
The earth would soon, did Hermes run it,
Be like the Balkans.

I don't pronounce the L in balk but I do pronounce it in Balkans - is it typically left out?

Snooker is not played on a snooker table, it is played on an English Billiards table. If you want to know why the lines and dots are where they are, study English Billiards. Originally in Billiards there was no Baulk line, but practitioners became too good at making billiards and so a Baulk line was added. The rules were changed so that after a specified number of direct cannons, the cue ball had to travel into and out of baulk for the break to continue. many/balk

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