Definition of block in English:

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Pronunciation: /bläk/


1A large solid piece of hard material, especially rock, stone, or wood, typically with flat surfaces on each side: a block of marble
More example sentences
  • Other materials for terraces include bricks, rocks, concrete blocks, and similar masonry materials.
  • There, as it had been during his initial inspection, was a stone block wall just as solid as any other in the castle.
  • You're going to need a paved surface, concrete blocks, Tarmac even, so the delivery vehicles can get to the shops by the river.
chunk, hunk, lump, wedge, cube, brick, slab, bar, piece
1.1A sturdy, flat-topped block used as a work surface, typically for chopping food.
Example sentences
  • She took out a large knife from the cutting block and sliced a piece of cheese, promptly eating one.
  • Extracting a block of wood and a knife he held it up to her from his seat on the floor.
1.2 (usually blocks) Any of a set of solid cubes used as a child’s toy.
1.3 (usually blocks) A starting block: the thrust a sprinter gets when coming out of the blocks
More example sentences
  • I'm trying to focus and not to false start, fall at the line or basically walk instead of run out of the blocks as I sometimes do because any of these things could happen.
  • She blasted out of the blocks and immediately established her dominance over the other runners.
  • We were slow out of the blocks against Italy but we expected a difficult game anyway in Rome.
1.4 Printing A piece of wood or metal engraved for printing on paper or fabric.
Example sentences
  • He has a predilection for wallpaper and wrapping paper, to which he applies repetitive motifs using stamps made from cut and engraved blocks of wood dipped in printer's ink or paint.
  • The printing blocks are made of wood, metal and other materials.
  • The goal is to provide practical experience about block printing and registration of blocks.
1.5 (also cylinder block or engine block) The main body of an internal combustion engine, containing the pistons.
Example sentences
  • The engine block and cylinder head are made of cast aluminium.
  • Descending the reef again, I came across the engine block and crankshaft.
  • You need a piston, a manifold, then you need an engine block, a carburetor, a distributer, this that and the other thing.
1.6A head-shaped mold used for shaping hats or wigs.
2North American The area bounded by four streets in a town or suburb: she went for a run around the block ours was the ugliest house on the block
More example sentences
  • At the same time in DC, three intimidating looking black guys pulled up in front of a big house on a tree-lined block in a suburban neighborhood.
  • The Trust owns about 70 percent of four blocks in that area.
  • Regular maintenance of the street ended after three blocks and the area beyond looked rougher.
2.1North American The length of one side of a town block, typically as a measure of distance: he lives a few blocks away from the museum
More example sentences
  • I would never backpack or turn a somersault or jump to the ground from even the most modest height or run the length of half a block.
  • Interior hallways run nearly the length of a city block, and could have resembled an endless, generic motel corridor.
  • Although the distance to the pool was only about the length of a short block, my feet felt as though they were about to fall off because they were so cold.
3 [with modifier] A building, especially part of a complex, used for a particular purpose: a cell block
More example sentences
  • The completion of the science block is not the end of developments at the School.
  • But the school burned down and many classrooms and hostel blocks were completely destroyed.
  • A women's centre and an urban prayer garden complete the Cathedral block.
3.1chiefly British A large single building subdivided into separate rooms, apartments, or offices: an apartment block
More example sentences
  • The church still stands, now surrounded by office buildings and blocks of flats, and looking rather small among its neighbours.
  • There must be some residential development in the area but we don't want blocks of flats or offices.
  • A five-storey block incorporating offices and flats will now go ahead following the decision by councillors last week.
building, complex, structure, development
4A large quantity or allocation of things regarded as a unit: a block of shares [as modifier]: block grants
More example sentences
  • Braille music uses the same system of raised dots on paper as standard Braille, with the top four dots in a block of six giving the note and the bottom two indicating its duration.
  • A block of 55,500 Petrol shares was sold at 14.31 and another 129,500 shares at 14.32.
  • The therapy involves undertaking six-week blocks of different exercises, spread over a year, with the aim of stimulating a part of the brain called the cerebellum.
batch, group, set, quantity
4.1 Computing A large piece of text processed as a unit.
Example sentences
  • When speaking about hypertext, it refers specifically to blocks of text connected by hyperlinks.
  • Maybe you type the same blocks of text into your email messages thirty times a day.
  • Text messaging, which allows blocks of text up to 160 characters long to be sent, has been a huge success with 50 million being sent in Britain alone every day.
4.2chiefly British A set of sheets of paper glued along one edge, used for drawing or writing on: a sketching block
More example sentences
  • The blocks of paper demolished the wall that was being repaired by builder David Gott after they were flung from the vehicle on the sharp corner bend approaching Keighley Road from Colne.
  • A large conference table and whiteboard occupied one side of the room; the other side was filled with desks, notebooks and drawing blocks.
  • if you want to make good watercolor sketches, pick up a block<(em> of watercolor paper in some portable size.
4.3An unseparated unit of at least four postage stamps in at least two rows, generally a group of four.
Example sentences
  • I would like to give you a little more information about the block of stamps I have up for sale.
  • Blocks of stamps from the edges of the original sheet or pane often include sections of the sheet's margin, which may have a wide variety of information.
  • A beautiful new block of four U.S. stamps pays tribute to an amazing founding father in his roles as Statesman, Scientist, Printer and Postmaster.
5An obstacle to the normal progress or functioning of something: substantial demands for time off may constitute a block to career advancement an emotional block
More example sentences
  • Secondly a whole set of conditions have been placed on the developing world, many of which have been seen by campaigners and the nations themselves, as a block to necessary progress.
  • If you break the rules of existence, there's usually a block to progress until you have connected things.
  • A high-profile civil case would mean lurid newspaper headlines and act as a block to any possibility of restarting a television career.
obstacle, bar, barrier, impediment, hindrance, check, hurdle, stumbling block, handicap, deterrent
blockage, obstruction, stoppage, clog, congestion, occlusion, clot
5.1 Sports A hindering or stopping of an opponent’s movement or action.
Example sentences
  • Lunge, parry, head block… all the movements of sword fighting were familiar to her.
  • As the two fighters once again clashed, their movements became faster and more intense with each block.
  • A lot of this is developed on the playground where no real fouls are called and the shooters must alter their shot to avoid a block.
5.2 Tennis A shot in which the racket is held stationary rather than being swung back, especially a stop volley.
Example sentences
  • Young players are infatuated with rejecting a shot with a block, and they pay for it continuously.
  • There is no swing, but a block from the shoulder without follow-through.
5.3 short for mental block.
5.4 short for nerve block.
5.5A chock for stopping the motion of a wheel.
Example sentences
  • Make sure you have a jack that will lift the trailer (with horses inside) or a wheel block to pull one trailer tire onto to get the other one off the ground.
6A flat area of something, typically a solid area of color: cover the eyelid with a neutral block of color
More example sentences
  • It would look silly to draw the character as is; the background would be drawn too, and the character would be surrounded by a block of solid color.
  • Women don't want a block of colour, especially not black after all this mourning.
  • Turquoise with bright color blocks of red and yellow.
7A pulley or system of pulleys mounted in a case.
Example sentences
  • It was here that he was awarded £17,000 by the government for the patent of his mechanical ships blocks.
  • It is a hoist for lifting appliances, and more specifically a block-and-pulley arrangement, or a block-and-tackle arrangement.
  • A block which moves downward is attached to a string which is wrapped around the pulley.
8 informal A person’s head: “I’ll knock your block off,” he said
More example sentences
  • He paid out a large sum of money to a number of his creditors because they had threatened to ‘knock his block off’ if he did not pay them.
  • That's where they get their blocks knocked off.
  • Which sides will win and which will get their blocks knocked off?


[with object]
1Make the movement or flow in (a passage, pipe, road, etc.) difficult or impossible: block up the holes with sticky tape a police cordon blocked off roads (as adjective blocked) a blocked nose
More example sentences
  • The road was blocked off and the 93 bus couldn't get through, so I caught another one which took me all around the houses, but it was still stuck in traffic.
  • Emergency services were called and the road was blocked off.
  • Major roads were blocked off, threatening huge traffic disruption.
clog (up), stop up, choke, plug, obstruct, gum up, dam up, congest, jam, close
informal gunge up
technical occlude
close up, shut off, seal off, barricade, bar, obstruct
1.1Put an obstacle in the way of (something proposed or attempted): he stood up, blocking her escape the administration tried to block an agreement on farm subsidies
More example sentences
  • Fortunately I think our firewall had been blocking the access attempts, but the popup ads were still happening.
  • But this Council finds the idea distasteful and is blocking every attempt to find a suitable location.
  • Can you blame the Senate blocking his half-baked attempts at policy formulation?
1.2Restrict the use or conversion of (currency or any other asset).
Example sentences
  • The U.S. has rallied 120 nations to block assets of suspected terrorist groups.
  • In his evidence, he said that if the acquisition was blocked, it would have been a waste of a ‘tremendous amount of time and energy’.
  • This has been blamed for blocking overseas-bound investment by mainland enterprises.
1.3 Sports Hinder or stop the movement or action of (an opponent, a ball, etc.).
Example sentences
  • There is some skill required, as you want to rearrange the cards in order to block your opponent from gaining points.
  • Of course it's best if you can block another opponent while advancing yourself at the same time.
  • He could block opponents, he could kick, he could pass.
1.4 Medicine Produce insensibility in (a part of the body) by injecting an anesthetic close to the nerves that supply it.
Example sentences
  • The gene would still be there, but the drug blocks the body from turning on the disease process.
  • This is a condition in which the optic nerve sustains damage because its blood supply is blocked.
  • Local anesthetic agents block pain transmission by interfering with nerve cell depolarization of peripheral pain fibers.
1.5 Bridge Play in such a way that an opponent cannot establish (a long suit).
Example sentences
  • A common mistake by beginners is that when your best suit proves to be blocked by the opponent to switch and try each other suit in turn.
  • Often, however, you cannot take the discard pile because you are blocked by a black three discarded by your right hand opponent.
  • They also block the discard pile for the opponents when discarded.
2Impress text or a design on (a book cover).
Example sentences
  • Original blue cloth, spine lettered and blocked in gold.
  • Original pale green linen, blocked in an orange-red and black pictorial design on the upper cover.
3Design or plan the movements of actors on a stage or movie set.
Example sentences
  • The stage version clearly needs blocking as there is a limited space on which to do the entire show.
  • But, in stage blocking, you have to remember where you are for the entire three hours that the show runs.
  • Konarak strums his guitar before a shamiana where the actors block their moves, test their lines.
4Shape or reshape (a hat) using a wooden mold.
Example sentences
  • He is well cast and carries the part like a well blocked hat, (though his own hat sometimes got the better of him).
  • It's going to need a pretty firm hand to block it to shape.



have been around the block (a few times)

North American informal (Of a person) have a lot of experience.
Example sentences
  • We add an element of showbiz that probably comes from my experience of being in bands and having been around the block a few times.
  • Hey, it's all about experience, really, and he's been around the block a few times.
  • Many new breakthrough artists flung into the scene providing steady competition for the bands that have been around the block and back.

the new kid on the block

informal A newcomer to a particular place or sphere of activity, typically someone who has yet to prove themselves.
Example sentences
  • We're the new kids on the block in the central belt, which has brought a surge of interest among potential recruits.
  • India and China, he says, are the new kids on the block and will outperform the rest of the world because they have whole-heartedly absorbed the new mantra of globalisation.
  • ‘They are the new kids on the block and could veto this constitution before they even become a member of the union,’ said one diplomat.

on the (auction) block

For sale at auction: the original first manuscript for Ravel’s Bolero goes on the block today figurative the company put its subsidiary on the block because it did not fit its core business interests
More example sentences
  • The studio is placing props from the film on the block at their online auction house.
  • At the same time, some of his designs are on the block at an auction in Chicago.
  • The services of the celebrity painter commanded two winning bids of $25,000 to top a series of unique experiences offered on the auction block.

put (or lay) one's head (or neck) on the block

informal Put one’s standing or reputation at risk by proceeding with a particular course of action.
With reference to the executioner's block
Example sentences
  • Councillors often have to make difficult decisions, often putting their head on the block.
  • If it's not, I will be putting my head on the block again.
  • But I'd have to to be totally sure that I was on to a winner before putting my head on the block - watched by half the world.

Phrasal verbs


block something in

1Mark something out roughly.
Example sentences
  • I've learned it's best to roughly block everything in first so you can see where everything is going as a whole.
  • I start off by blocking in large shapes, value, and color.
1.1Add something in a unit: it’s a good idea to block in regular periods of exercise
More example sentences
  • It is strongly recommended that trainees be prepared to block in a 24-week period and make the training a top priority in order to receive maximum benefit from the training.
  • Within your schedule, don’t forget to block in time for meals and rest.
  • She now starts every week by blocking in time for. these priorities first, no matter how busy she feels.
1.2Paint something with solid areas of color.
Example sentences
  • I blocked in my background colour with a nice aqua green.
  • When you look at her pastels there seems to be a painterly quality almost completely lacking from her earlier paintings which are either coloured sketches or blocked in areas of flat colour.
  • It starts with a ‘poster study’ of blocked-in areas of color
2Park one’s car in such a way as to prevent another car from moving away: he blocked in Vera’s minivan
More example sentences
  • However, as there is such pressure on parking here, many use our car park without permission with the consequence that funerals and weddings can be blocked in.
  • I would ask drivers how they would feel if they were prevented from going to work, doing their shopping or visiting friends by cars parked across their drive or blocking their car in the street.
  • Eastwood Park has an entrance at the end of Park Avenue and cars have been parking along the small road, obstructing access and blocking residents in.

block something out

1Stop something, typically light or noise, from reaching somewhere: you’re blocking out my sun
More example sentences
  • I groaned, grabbing my pillow and placing it over my ears, blocking all noise out.
  • I usually just block such noises out because in the city there's always some lunatic running around shouting things but for some reason I ran to the cry for help.
  • Tony is talking, while Davy is trying to block the noise out with his pillow.
1.1Exclude something unpleasant from one’s thoughts or memory.
Example sentences
  • Maybe we're just blocking it out like a bad memory or premonition.
  • I sighed, wondering why I had chosen to block the memories out in the first place.
  • He tried to block those memories out, but he couldn't in his nearly unconscious state.
2Mark or sketch something out roughly.
Example sentences
  • Sometimes, I'll start right on the computer and then have to slow down and block things out on paper to sort things out.
  • I write it down on my steno pad when the idea comes to me, and more or less block it out on paper first.
  • I designed it by blocking it out on a ‘clean sheet’ using an architect's program.


Middle English (denoting a log or tree stump): from Old French bloc (noun), bloquer (verb), from Middle Dutch blok, of unknown ultimate origin.

  • In the early Middle Ages a block was a log or tree stump. The word came from French bloc, which English readopted in a different sense as bloc, ‘a group of countries that have formed an alliance’, in the early 20th century. By the late Middle Ages a block was often a large lump of wood on which chopping, hammering, and beheading were performed. We refer to an executioner's block when we use the phrase to put your head (or neck) on the block.

    A block of buildings, bounded by four streets, dates from the late 18th century in North America. This use has given rise to numerous popular phrases: the new kid on the block, and the person believed to have been around the block a few times (to have a lot of experience). It also gave us the blockbuster. Although this now means ‘a great commercial success’, in the 1940s it was a huge aerial bomb capable of destroying a whole block of streets.

    Block has meant head, as in to knock someone's block off, since the 17th century. In Australia. to do or lose your block is to lose your temper. See also loggerhead

Words that rhyme with block

ad hoc, amok, Bangkok, baroque, belle époque, bloc, bock, brock, chock, chock-a-block, clock, doc, dock, floc, flock, frock, hock, hough, interlock, jock, knock, langue d'oc, lock, Locke, Médoc, mock, nock, o'clock, pock, post hoc, roc, rock, schlock, shock, smock, sock, Spock, stock, wok, yapok

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: block

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