n., v., & adj.
n. 1 a solid hewn or unhewn piece of hard material, esp. of rock, stone, or wood (block of ice). 2 a flat-topped block used as a base for chopping, beheading, standing something on, hammering on, or for mounting a horse from. 3 a a large building, esp. when subdivided (block of flats). b a compact mass of buildings bounded by (usu. four) streets. 4 an obstruction; anything preventing progress or normal working (a block in the pipe). 5 a chock for stopping the motion of a wheel etc. 6 a pulley or system of pulleys mounted in a case. 7 (in pl.) any of a set of solid cubes etc., used as a child's toy. 8 Printing a piece of wood or metal engraved for printing on paper or fabric. 9 a head-shaped mould used for shaping hats or wigs. 10 sl. the head (knock his block off). 11 US a the area between streets in a town or suburb. b the length of such an area, esp. as a measure of distance (lives three blocks away). 12 a stolid, unimaginative, or hard-hearted person. 13 a large quantity or allocation of things treated as a unit, esp. shares, seats in a theatre, etc. 14 a set of sheets of paper used for writing, or esp. drawing, glued along one edge. 15 Cricket a spot on which a batsman blocks the ball before the wicket, and rests the bat before playing. 16 Athletics = starting-block. 17 Amer. Football a blocking action. 18 Austral. a a tract of land offered to an individual settler by a government. b a large area of land.
v.tr. 1 a (often foll. by up) obstruct (a passage etc.) (the road was blocked; you are blocking my view). b put obstacles in the way of (progress etc.). 2 restrict the use or conversion of (currency or any other asset). 3 use a block for making (a hat, wig, etc.). 4 emboss or impress a design on (a book cover). 5 Cricket stop (a ball) with a bat defensively. 6 Amer. Football intercept (an opponent) with one's body.
attrib.adj. treating (many similar things) as one unit (block booking). block and tackle a system of pulleys and ropes, esp. for lifting. block capitals (or letters) letters printed without serifs, or written with each letter separate and in capitals. block diagram a diagram showing the general arrangement of parts of an apparatus. block in 1 sketch roughly; plan. 2 confine. block mountain Geol. a mountain formed by natural faults. block out 1 a shut out (light, noise, etc.). b exclude from memory, as being too painful. 2 sketch roughly; plan. block-ship Naut. a ship used to block a channel. block system a system by which no railway train may enter a section that is not clear. block tin refined tin cast in ingots. block up 1 confine; shut (a person etc.) in. 2 infill (a window, doorway, etc.) with bricks etc. block vote a vote proportional in power to the number of people a delegate represents. mental (or psychological) block a particular mental inability due to subconscious emotional factors. on the block US being auctioned. put the blocks on prevent from proceeding. blocker n.
[ ME f. OF bloc, bloquer f. MDu. blok, of unkn. orig. ]