1. Herbert Lawrence Block.


  1. Herbert LawrenceHerblock, 1909–2001, U.S. cartoonist.


  1. a large solid piece of wood, stone, or other material with flat rectangular sides, as for use in building
  2. any large solid piece of wood, stone, etc, usually having at least one face fairly flat
  3. such a piece on which particular tasks may be done, as chopping, cutting, or beheading
  4. Also called: building block one of a set of wooden or plastic cubes as a child’s toy
  5. a form on which things are shaped or displayeda wig block
  6. slang a person’s head (esp in the phrase knock someone’s block off)
  7. do one’s block Australian and NZ slang to become angry
  8. a dull, unemotional, or hardhearted person
  9. a large building of offices, flats, etc
    1. a group of buildings in a city bounded by intersecting streets on each side
    2. the area or distance between such intersecting streets
  10. Australian and NZ an area of land for a house, farm, etc
  11. Australian and NZ a log, usually a willow, fastened to a timber base and used in a wood-chopping competition
  12. an area of land, esp one to be divided for building or settling
  13. See cylinder block
    1. a piece of wood, metal, or other material having an engraved, cast, or carved design in relief, used either for printing or for stamping book covers, etc
    2. Britisha letterpress printing plate, esp one mounted type-high on wood or metal
  14. a casing housing one or more freely rotating pulleysSee also block and tackle
  15. on the block mainly US and Canadian up for auction
  16. the act of obstructing or condition of being obstructed, as in sports
  17. an obstruction or hindrance
  18. pathol
    1. interference in the normal physiological functioning of an organ or part
    2. See heart block
    3. See nerve block
  19. psychol a short interruption of perceptual or thought processes
  20. obstruction of an opponent in a sport
    1. a section or quantity, as of tickets or shares, handled or considered as a single unit
    2. (as modifier)a block booking; block voting
    1. a stretch of railway in which only one train may travel at a time
    2. (as modifier)a block signal
  21. an unseparated group of four or more postage stampsCompare strip 1 (def. 3)
  22. a pad of paper
  23. computing a group of words treated as a unit of data on a tape, disk, etc
  24. athletics short for starting block
  25. cricket a mark made near the popping crease by a batsman to indicate his position in relation to the wicket
  26. a chip off the old block informal a person who resembles one of his or her parents in behaviour

verb (mainly tr)

  1. to shape or form (something) into a block
  2. to fit with or mount on a block
  3. to shape by use of a blockto block a hat
  4. (often foll by up) to obstruct (a passage, channel, etc) or prevent or impede the motion or flow of (something or someone) by introducing an obstacleto block the traffic; to block up a pipe
  5. to impede, retard, or prevent (an action, procedure, etc)
  6. to stamp (a title, design, etc) on (a book cover, etc) by means of a block (see sense 12), esp using gold leaf or other foil
  7. (esp of a government or central bank) to limit the use or conversion of assets or currency
  8. (also intr) sport to obstruct or impede movement by (an opponent)
  9. (intr) to suffer a psychological block
  10. to interrupt a physiological function, as by use of an anaesthetic
  11. (also intr) cricket to play (a ball) defensively

“solid piece,” c.1300, from Old French bloc “log, block” of wood (13c.), via Middle Dutch bloc “trunk of a tree” or Old High German bloh, from a common Germanic source, from PIE *bhlugo-, from *bhelg- “a thick plank, beam” (see balk).

Meaning “mould for a hat” is from 1570s. Slang sense of “head” is from 1630s. Extended sense of “obstruction” is first recorded 1640s. In cricket from 1825; in U.S. football from 1912. The meaning in city block is 1796, from the notion of a “compact mass” of buildings; slang meaning “fashionable promenade” is 1869.

BLOCK. A term applied in America to a square mass of houses included between four streets. It is a very useful one. [Bartlett]


“obstruct,” 1590s, from French bloquer “to block, stop up,” from Old French bloc (see block (n.)). Meaning “to make smooth or to give shape on a block” is from 1620s. Stage and theater sense is from 1961. Sense in cricket is from 1772; in U.S. football from 1889. Related: Blocked; blocking.


  1. Interruption, especially obstruction, of a normal physiological function.
  2. Interruption, complete or partial, permanent or temporary, of the passage of a nervous impulse.
  3. Atrioventricular block.
  4. Sudden cessation of speech or a thought process without an immediate observable cause, sometimes considered a consequence of repression.


  1. To arrest passage through; obstruct.

  1. An arrangement of pulleys and ropes used to reduce the amount of force needed to move heavy loads. One pulley is attached to the load, and rope or chains connect this pulley to a fixed pulley. Each pulley may have multiple grooves or wheels for the rope to pass over numerous times. Pulling the rope or chain slowly draws the load-bearing pulley toward the fixed one with high mechanical advantage.

see chip off the old block; knock someone’s block off; on the block; stumbling block.

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