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Etymology

From Middle English blok (log, stump, solid piece), from Old French bloc (log, block), from Middle Dutch blok (treetrunk), from Old Dutch *blok (log), from Proto-West Germanic *blokk, from Proto-Germanic *blukką (beam, log), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰelǵ- (thick plank, beam, pile, prop). Cognate with Old Frisian blokOld Saxon blokOld High German blohbloc (block)Old English bolca (gangway of a ship, plank)Old Norse bǫlkr (divider, partition).

 

Noun

block (plural blocks)

  1. A substantial, often approximately cuboid, piece of any substance.
    block of iceblock of stone
    1. A chopping block: a cuboid base for cutting or beheading.
      Anne Boleyn placed her head on the block and awaited her execution.
    2. A wig block: a simplified head model upon which wigs are worn.
    3. A mould on which hats, bonnets, etc., are shaped.
    4. (printing, dated) A piece of hard wood on which a stereotype or electrotype plate is mounted.
    5. A case or frame housing one or more sheaves (pulleys), used with ropes to increase or redirect force, for example as part of lifting gear or a sailing ship’s rigging. See also block and tackle.
    6. A section of split logs used as fuel.
    7. A set of sheets (of paper) joined together at one end, forming a cuboid shape.
      block of 100 tickets
    8. (falconry) The perch on which a bird of prey is kept.
  2. A physical area or extent of something, often rectangular or approximately rectangular.
    block of textblock of colourblock of land
    1. (philately) A joined group of four (or in some cases nine) postage stamps, forming a roughly square shape.
    2. (viticulture) A discrete group of vines in a vineyard, often distinguished from others by variety, clone, canopy training method, irrigation infrastructure, or some combination thereof.
  3. A logical extent or region; a grouping or apportionment of like things treated together as a unit.
    block of datablock of seven daysblock reservation
    1. (computing) A logical data storage unit containing one or more physical sectors (see cluster).
    2. (programming) A region of code in a program that acts as a single unit, such as a function or loop.
    3. (cryptography) A fixed-length group of bits making up part of a message.
    4. (chemistry) A portion of a macromolecule, comprising many units, that has at least one feature not present in adjacent portions.
    5. (rail transport) A section of a railroad where the block system is used.
    6. (computing) A contiguous range of Unicode code points used to encode characters of a specific type; can be of any size evenly divisible by 16, up to 65,536 (a full plane).
      The “Specials” block comprises the sixteen codepoints from U+FFF0 through U+FFFF.
  4. A contiguous group of urban lots of property, typically several acres in extent, not crossed by public streets.
    I’m going for a walk around the block.
    1. The distance from one street to another in a city or suburb that is built (approximately) to a grid pattern.
      The place you are looking for is two long blocks east and one short block north.
  5. A roughly cuboid building.
    block of flatsa tower blockan office blocka toilet blocka shower block
    1. A cellblock.
  6. Something that prevents something from passing.
    Synonyms: barrierblockageobstruction
    There’s a block in the pipe that means the water can’t get through.
    1. Interference or obstruction of cognitive processes.
      a mental block
      writer’s block
    2. (sports) An action to interfere with the movement of an opposing player or of the object of play (ball, puck).
      1. (cricket) A shot played by holding the bat vertically in the path of the ball, so that it loses momentum and drops to the ground.
      2. (cricket) The position of a player or bat when guarding the wicket.
      3. (cricket) A blockhole.
      4. (cricket) The popping crease.
      5. (volleyball) A defensive play by one or more players meant to deflect a spiked ball back to the hitter’s court.
      Synonyms: stuffroofwall
    3. A temporary or permanent ban that prevents access to an online account or service, or connection to or from a designated telephone number, IP address, or similar.
      The Wiktionary page-blanking vandal was hit with an indefinite block.
      I’ve put a block on calls from that number.
  7. (slang) The human head.
    I’ll knock your block off!
  8. (Britain) Solitary confinement.
  9. (obsolete) A blockhead; a stupid fellow; a dolt

Verb

block (third-person singular simple present blockspresent participle blockingsimple past and past participle blocked)

  1. (transitive) To fill or obstruct (something) so that it is not possible to pass.
    The pipe was blocked by leaves.
    You’re blocking the road – I can’t get through!
  2. (transitive) To prevent (something or someone) from passing.
    A broken-down car is blocking the traffic.
  3. (transitive) To prevent (something from happening or someone from doing something).
    His plan to take over the business was blocked by the boss.
  4. (transitive, sports) To impede (an opponent or opponent’s play).
    He blocked the basketball player’s shot.
    The offensive linemen tried to block the blitz.
  5. (transitive, theater) To specify the positions and movements of the actors for (a section of a play or film).
    It was very difficult to block this scene convincingly.
  6. (transitive, cricket) To hit with a block.
  7. (intransitive, cricket) To play a block shot.
  8. (transitive) To bar (someone undesirable) from connecting via telephone, instant messaging, etc., or from accessing an online account or service, or similar.
    I tried to send you a message, but you’ve blocked me!
    The user who started the edit war was blocked for a day to cool off.
  9. (transitive) To bar (a message or communication), or bar connection with (an online account or service, a designated telephone number, IP address, etc.).
    They’ve blocked all calls to international numbers.
    Most Internet services have been blocked.
  10. (programming, intransitive) To wait for some condition to become true.
    When the condition expression is false, the thread blocks on the condition variable.
  11. (transitive) To stretch or mould (a knitted item, a hat, etc.) into the desired shape.
    blocked the mittens by wetting them and pinning them to a shaped piece of cardboard.
  12. (transitive) To shape or sketch out roughly.
    When drawing a scene, first block the main features, and then fill in the detail.
  13. (transitive, slang, obsolete) To knock (a person’s hat) down over their eyes.
    Synonym: bonnet

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