- a solid mass of wood, stone, etc., usually with one or more flat or approximately flat faces.
- a hollow masonry building unit of cement, terra cotta, etc.: a wall made of concrete blocks.
- one of a set of cube-shaped pieces of wood, plastic, or the like, used as a child’s toy in building.
- a mold or piece on which something is shaped or kept in shape: a hat block.
- a piece of wood used in the art of making woodcuts or wood engravings.
- Printing. the base on which a plate is mounted to make it type-high.
- a projection left on a squared stone to provide a means of lifting it.
- a short length of plank serving as a bridging, as between joists.
- a stump or wooden structure on which a condemned person is beheaded: Mary Stuart went bravely to the block.
- auction block.
- Machinery. a part enclosing one or more freely rotating, grooved pulleys, about which ropes or chains pass to form a hoisting or hauling tackle.
- an obstacle, obstruction, or hindrance: His stubbornness is a block to all my efforts.
- the state or condition of being obstructed; blockage: The traffic block lasted several hours.
- an obstruction, as of a nerve.
- heart block.
- Sports. a hindering of an opponent’s actions.
- a quantity, portion, or section taken as a unit or dealt with at one time: a large block of theater tickets.
- a small section of a city, town, etc., enclosed by neighboring and intersecting streets: She lives on my block.
- the length of one side of such a section: We walked two blocks over.
- Chiefly British. a large building divided into separate apartments, offices, shops, etc.
- a large number of bonds or shares of stock sold together as a single unit.
- a group of data stored as a unit on an external storage medium and handled as a unit by the computer for input or output: This file has 20 records per block.
- a section of storage locations in a computer allocated to a particular set of instructions or data.
- a group of consecutive machine words organized as a unit and guiding a particular computer operation, especially with reference to input and output.
- (on a flow chart) a symbol representing an operation, device, or instruction in a computer program.
- Railroads. any of the short lengths into which a track is divided for signaling purposes.
- Philately. a group of four or more unseparated stamps, not in a strip.
- Slang. a person’s head.
- Glassmaking. a wooden or metal cup for blocking a gather.
- an obstruction or stoppage in mental processes or speech, especially when related to stress, emotional conflict, etc.
- writer’s block.
- any large, angular mass of solid rock.
- fault block.
- (in Canada) a wild or remote area of land that has not yet been surveyed: the Peace River block.
- Automotive. cylinder block.
- Falconry. a low perch to which a falcon is tethered outdoors.
verb (used with object)
- to obstruct (someone or something) by placing obstacles in the way (sometimes followed by up): to block one’s exit; to block up a passage.
- to fit with blocks; mount on a block.
- to shape or prepare on or with a block: to block a hat; to block a sweater.
- to join (the ends of boards or the like) by fastening to a block of wood.
- Also block out.to plan or work out the movement of performers in a play, pageant, etc.: Tomorrow we’ll block act one.
- to draw a floor plan on (a stage) in order to indicate placement of scenery, stage property, etc.
- Pathology, Physiology. to stop the passage of impulses in (a nerve).
- Computers. to group (contiguous data) together so as to allow to be read or written in a single operation.
- Sports. to hinder or bar the actions or movements of (an opposing player), especially legitimately.
- to shape (a molten gather) in a wet cup of wood or metal.
- to plunge a block of wood into (molten glass) to aid in refining the glass.
- Metalworking. to give (a forging) a rough form before finishing.
- Electronics. to apply a high negative bias to the grid of (a vacuum tube), for reducing the plate current to zero.
verb (used without object)
- to act so as to obstruct an opponent, as in football, hockey, and basketball: He doesn’t get many baskets, but he sure can block.
- Theater. to block a play, act, scene, stage, etc.: The director will block tomorrow.
- to suffer a block.
- block in/out, to sketch or outline roughly or generally, without details: She blocked out a color scheme for the interiors.
- block out,
- block(def 36a).
- Basketball.to box out.
- put/go on the block, to offer or be offered for sale at auction: to put family heirlooms on the block.
- a large solid piece of wood, stone, or other material with flat rectangular sides, as for use in building
- any large solid piece of wood, stone, etc, usually having at least one face fairly flat
- such a piece on which particular tasks may be done, as chopping, cutting, or beheading
- Also called: building block one of a set of wooden or plastic cubes as a child’s toy
- a form on which things are shaped or displayeda wig block
- slang a person’s head (esp in the phrase knock someone’s block off)
- do one’s block Australian and NZ slang to become angry
- a dull, unemotional, or hardhearted person
- a large building of offices, flats, etc
- a group of buildings in a city bounded by intersecting streets on each side
- the area or distance between such intersecting streets
- Australian and NZ an area of land for a house, farm, etc
- Australian and NZ a log, usually a willow, fastened to a timber base and used in a wood-chopping competition
- an area of land, esp one to be divided for building or settling
- See cylinder block
- a piece of wood, metal, or other material having an engraved, cast, or carved design in relief, used either for printing or for stamping book covers, etc
- Britisha letterpress printing plate, esp one mounted type-high on wood or metal
- a casing housing one or more freely rotating pulleysSee also block and tackle
- on the block mainly US and Canadian up for auction
- the act of obstructing or condition of being obstructed, as in sports
- an obstruction or hindrance
- psychol a short interruption of perceptual or thought processes
- obstruction of an opponent in a sport
- a section or quantity, as of tickets or shares, handled or considered as a single unit
- (as modifier)a block booking; block voting
- a stretch of railway in which only one train may travel at a time
- (as modifier)a block signal
- an unseparated group of four or more postage stampsCompare strip 1 (def. 3)
- a pad of paper
- computing a group of words treated as a unit of data on a tape, disk, etc
- athletics short for starting block
- cricket a mark made near the popping crease by a batsman to indicate his position in relation to the wicket
- a chip off the old block informal a person who resembles one of his or her parents in behaviour
verb (mainly tr)
- to shape or form (something) into a block
- to fit with or mount on a block
- to shape by use of a blockto block a hat
- (often foll by up) to obstruct (a passage, channel, etc) or prevent or impede the motion or flow of (something or someone) by introducing an obstacleto block the traffic; to block up a pipe
- to impede, retard, or prevent (an action, procedure, etc)
- to stamp (a title, design, etc) on (a book cover, etc) by means of a block (see sense 12), esp using gold leaf or other foil
- (esp of a government or central bank) to limit the use or conversion of assets or currency
- (also intr) sport to obstruct or impede movement by (an opponent)
- (intr) to suffer a psychological block
- to interrupt a physiological function, as by use of an anaesthetic
- (also intr) cricket to play (a ball) defensively
“solid piece,” c.1300, from Old French bloc “log, block” of wood (13c.), via Middle Dutch bloc “trunk of a tree” or Old High German bloh, from a common Germanic source, from PIE *bhlugo-, from *bhelg- “a thick plank, beam” (see balk).
Meaning “mould for a hat” is from 1570s. Slang sense of “head” is from 1630s. Extended sense of “obstruction” is first recorded 1640s. In cricket from 1825; in U.S. football from 1912. The meaning in city block is 1796, from the notion of a “compact mass” of buildings; slang meaning “fashionable promenade” is 1869.
BLOCK. A term applied in America to a square mass of houses included between four streets. It is a very useful one. [Bartlett]
“obstruct,” 1590s, from French bloquer “to block, stop up,” from Old French bloc (see block (n.)). Meaning “to make smooth or to give shape on a block” is from 1620s. Stage and theater sense is from 1961. Sense in cricket is from 1772; in U.S. football from 1889. Related: Blocked; blocking.
- Interruption, especially obstruction, of a normal physiological function.
- Interruption, complete or partial, permanent or temporary, of the passage of a nervous impulse.
- Atrioventricular block.
- Sudden cessation of speech or a thought process without an immediate observable cause, sometimes considered a consequence of repression.
- To arrest passage through; obstruct.
- An arrangement of pulleys and ropes used to reduce the amount of force needed to move heavy loads. One pulley is attached to the load, and rope or chains connect this pulley to a fixed pulley. Each pulley may have multiple grooves or wheels for the rope to pass over numerous times. Pulling the rope or chain slowly draws the load-bearing pulley toward the fixed one with high mechanical advantage.
see chip off the old block; knock someone’s block off; on the block; stumbling block.