a. A solid piece of a hard substance, such as wood, having one or more flat sides.
b. Such a piece used as a construction member or as a support.
c. Such a piece upon which chopping or cutting is done: a butcher's block.
d. Such a piece upon which persons are beheaded.
e. One of a set of small wooden or plastic pieces, such as a cube, bar, or cylinder, used as a building toy.
f. Printing A large amount of text.
g. Sports A starting block.
2. A stand from which articles are displayed and sold at an auction: Many priceless antiques went on the block.
3. A mold or form on which an item is shaped or displayed: a hat block.
4. A substance, such as wood or stone, that has been prepared for engraving.
a. A pulley or a system of pulleys set in a casing.
b. An engine block.
6. A bloc.
7. A set of like items, such as shares of stock, sold or handled as a unit.
8. A group of four or more unseparated postage stamps forming a rectangle.
9. Canadian A group of townships in an unsurveyed area.
a. A usually rectangular section of a city or town bounded on each side by consecutive streets.
b. A segment of a street bounded by consecutive cross streets and including its buildings and inhabitants.
11. A large building divided into separate units, such as apartments.
12. A length of railroad track controlled by signals.
13. Something that obstructs; an obstacle: The disabled car formed a block in traffic.
14. The act of preventing someone or something from advancing, passing, or progressing, as:
a. Sports An act of bodily obstruction, as of a player or the ball.
b. Football An act of legally using one's body to obstruct or move a defensive player so that a player in possession of the ball may advance downfield, pass, or otherwise execute an offensive play.
15. Medicine Interruption or obstruction of a physiological function: nerve block.
16. Psychology A sudden cessation of speech or a thought process without an immediate observable cause, sometimes considered a consequence of repression. Also called mental block.
17. Slang The human head: threatened to knock my block off.
v. blocked, block·ing, blocks
a. To stop or impede the passage of or movement through; obstruct: block traffic; mud that blocked the pipe.
b. To prevent from happening, succeeding, or progressing: blocked every attempt to reform the rules.
c. To shut out from view: a curtain blocking the stage.
d. To stop the passage of (a motion or bill) in a legislative assembly.
e. Sports To prevent or slow the movement of (an opponent) by using one's body, as by making a block in football.
f. Sports To stop or deflect (a ball or puck) by using one's body.
g. Medicine To interrupt or obstruct the functioning of (a physiological process), especially by the use of drugs.
h. Psychology To fail to remember.
2. To support, strengthen, or retain in place by means of a block.
3. To shape, mold, or form with or on a block: block a hat.
4. To indicate broadly without great detail; sketch. Often used with out: block out a plan of action; block out stage movements.
5. To run (trains) on a block system.
a. To obstruct the movement of an opponent by using one's body.
b. To stop or deflect a ball or puck by using one's body.
2. To suffer a mental block. Often used with on: I blocked on his name.
1. To cover over so as to be illegible: block out sensitive information from a document before releasing it.
2. To repress (a traumatic event, for example) from conscious memory.
go on the block
To be offered for sale.
out of the blocks
From a starting position, as in a race or contest: The company has in the past been slow out of the blocks to adapt to consumer tastes.
put on the block
To offer for sale.
[Middle English blok, from Old French bloc, from Middle Dutch.]
Synonyms: block, hide1, obscure, obstruct, screen, shroud
These verbs mean to cut off from sight: a tree that blocked the view; a road hidden by brush; mist that obscured the mountain peak; skyscrapers obstructing the sky; a fence that screens the alley; a face shrouded by a heavy veil.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.