Definition of chalk in English:

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Pronunciation: /tʃɔːk/


[mass noun]
1A white soft earthy limestone (calcium carbonate) formed from the skeletal remains of sea creatures.
Example sentences
  • Calcium carbonate exists as whole mountain ranges of chalk, limestone, and marble.
  • Deposits of their skeletons produced much of the Mesozoic chalk and limestone.
  • It passes upwards into almost flat-lying white coccolith chalk with parallel lines of black flint nodules.
1.1A chalk-like substance (calcium sulphate), made into sticks used for writing or drawing on a blackboard.
Example sentences
  • I turned quickly and grabbed a piece of chalk off the black board on one of the walls.
  • I knew white farmers whose idea of education for black children was a blackboard, a few sticks of chalk and a chair for an untrained teacher.
  • This exhibition features drawings in mixed media chalk, charcoal and graphite drawings on paper which have evolved from studies of the Achill landscape.
1.2 [count noun] Geology A series of strata consisting mainly of chalk.
Example sentences
  • The coccolithophorids range in age from Triassic to Recent, and form a major constituent of Mesozoic and Tertiary chalks.
  • Pore-filling cementation is also common during the diagenesis of chalks, resulting in rapid porosity loss.
  • The cited examples are all interpreted as large-scale erosional scour-channels, variously associated with cemented hardgrounds, conglomeratic and nodular chalks, and debris.


[with object]
1Write or draw with chalk: he chalked a message on the board
More example sentences
  • People were chalking messages over the square.
  • In retaliation she had chalked her own message pointing at her neighbour's house and when she saw she had got her view across, she went to wash it off.
  • McQueen has had notoriously bad relationships with his bosses - he used to chalk obscene messages onto the linings of suits he was tailoring in Savile Row.
1.1Draw or write on (a surface) with chalk: blackboards chalked with Japanese phrases
More example sentences
  • To get the latest news, thousands would flock to the newspaper offices themselves, arrayed along Park Row near city hall, to watch the headlines get chalked up on giant blackboards.
  • The latest incarnation looks every part the French bistro, from the wooden floor and chairs and prints on the wall to the fresh flowers on the table and blackboards chalked up with dishes to tempt even the most iron-willed of dieters.
  • As a way of reminding and motivating students, you can see chalked on blackboards in most classrooms countdowns of the days to the examination and some encouraging words.
1.2Rub the tip of (a snooker cue) with chalk.
Example sentences
  • Former world champion Steve Davis chalks his cue as the UK Snooker Championships got under way today at York's Barbican Centre.
  • Regulars at the Pattern Store Bar in Penzance Drive, Swindon are chalking their cues ready for the visit of the former World Champion snooker player on Wednesday, February 26.
  • But those of a literary bent were quick to realise the identity of the mystery guest, thoughtfully chalking his cue as he sought to get out of a snooker.
2British Charge (drinks bought in a pub or bar) to a person’s account: he chalked the bill on to the Professor’s private account



as different as (or like) chalk and cheese

British Fundamentally different or incompatible: we’ll never get on—we’re like chalk and cheese
More example sentences
  • The pair were as different as chalk and cheese but between them they forged out 29 century opening stands - and Lumb would probably argue the number would have been much higher if his celebrated partner had not run him out so many times.
  • But they are as different as chalk and cheese, both in appearance and otherwise: Walt is a ladies' man and an aspiring actor, while Bob is an unassuming athlete with terrible stage fright.
  • Whether this turns out to be true or not, in my opinion, hunting and fishing are as different as chalk and cheese so I stay out of an argument that does not involve me as a fisherman.

by a long chalk

British By far: she is, by a long chalk, the highest paid
More example sentences
  • As well as being top scorers in the Bundesliga by a long chalk, their attackers have stood up in the Champions League.
  • He claimed that whatever musical advantages The Ten may have Letters and Colours are the better dancers, by a long chalk.
  • The position against Europe has not changed much either - Germany and France are still ahead by a long chalk.

chalk and talk

British Teaching by traditional methods focusing on the blackboard and presentation by the teacher as opposed to more informal or interactive methods.
Example sentences
  • The presentations were made using a traditional ‘chalk and talk’ method whereby the information was placed on a board and dutifully copied by the students.
  • The directional ‘chalk and talk ‘relationship between teacher and student - students as audience - here gives way to the model of information technology based self-learning within flexibly designed space.’
  • If you read through active learning literature, you can't miss the disdain for those stuck in the ‘chalk and talk’ method of conveying information to undergraduates.

not by a long chalk

British By no means; not at all: they weren’t beaten yet, not by a long chalk
With reference to the chalk used for marking up scores in competitive games
More example sentences
  • We didn't manage the lot, not by a long chalk, but we managed this distant outpost.
  • ‘And,’ added Gilz, because he wasn't finished, not by a long chalk, ‘I bet that one of the tabloids sends a Diana look alike down to the registry office.’
  • It's not the greatest opera ever written, not by a long chalk.

Phrasal verbs


chalk something off

British (In sport) disallow a goal for an infringement of the rules.
Example sentences
  • Scott McCartney netted from a second-half penalty corner, only to have the goal chalked off for a foot infringement.
  • Sammy Ayorinde had the ball in the net on 14 minutes for Stalybridge but the goal was chalked off for off-side.
  • But the fleet-footed winger was adjudged to have stepped into touch and the try was chalked off.

chalk something out

Sketch or plan something: we have already chalked out the strategy for conducting raids
More example sentences
  • While the strategy at the think-tank level may well be in place, those who have chalked it out face the absence of a well-oiled machinery that can effectively implement it.
  • Of course the easiest way to make your own batter's box template is to just chalk it out alongside a tape measure and a level.
  • The artist begins by first drawing the scene in miniature and then chalking it out to actual dimensions on black tarpaper.

chalk something up

1Achieve something noteworthy: he has chalked up a box office success
More example sentences
  • Even if everything goes according to plan - and that is a big ‘if’ - many years of gruelling negotiations lie ahead before a genuine achievement can be chalked up.
  • Unfortunately, two of those losses were chalked up to the Red Deer Kings.
  • The Kildare man knows the stroke will be chalked up as a winner in his horse racing mad constituency where obviously a nod is as good as a wink…
achieve, attain, accomplish, gain, earn, win, succeed in making, reach, make, get, obtain;
score, tally, record, register, enter, mark, log
informal clock up, knock up, notch up, turn in, rack up, bag
2Ascribe something to a particular cause: I chalked my sleeplessness up to nerves
More example sentences
  • Let's all just chalk this up to poetic license and go with the Japan thing.
  • Now I'm inclined to chalk that up to sheer dumb luck, or more accurately, to contingency.
  • There are some things we can chalk up to budgetary constraints and fiscal realities; there are others that we can chalk up to bad priorities.
attribute, assign, ascribe, put down, set down, accredit, credit, give the credit for, impute;
lay on, pin on, blame on, lay at the door of;
connect with, associate with


Old English cealc (also denoting lime), related to Dutch kalk and German Kalk, from Latin calx (see calx).

  • Old English cealc, the forerunner of chalk, also meant ‘lime’. It came from Latin calx ‘lime’, which is also the source of calcium [19th]. When we say by a long chalk, meaning ‘to a great degree, by far’ (and not by a long chalk, ‘not at all’), the ‘ long chalk’ refers to the length of a line of chalk marks or tallies drawn on a blackboard. This may originally have been in the context of a pub game, where points scored were marked up on the blackboard, or perhaps in the classroom, with a teacher chalking up pupils' marks for schoolwork. In either case, a long line of chalk marks against your name would mean you were a long way ahead of the others.

Words that rhyme with chalk

auk, baulk, Bork, caulk (US calk), cork, Dundalk, Falk, fork, gawk, hawk, Hawke, nork, orc, outwalk, pork, squawk, stalk, stork, talk, torc, torque, walk, york

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: chalk

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