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Balk

means the high ridge between furrows (Anglo-Saxon balca, a beam, a ridge); hence a rising ground.

A balk of timber
is a beam running across the ceiling, etc., like a ridge. As the balk is the part not cut by the plough, therefore “to balk” means to leave untouched, or to disappoint.

To make a balk.
To miss a part of the field in ploughing. Hence to disappoint, to withhold deceitfully.

To make a balk of good ground
To throw away a good chance.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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