Definition of chalk in English:



  • 1A soft white limestone (calcium carbonate) formed from the skeletal remains of sea creatures.

    • ‘limestones, in vineyard terms, may be normal rocky limestones or chalk, the first being much more common and its drainage properties rather variable.’
    • ‘The unconformity surface is overlain by sandstone, reworked chalk or tuff, and represents submarine or subaerial erosion and missing section.’
    • ‘Moreover, through our cities and agriculture we are constantly varying the surface reflectivity of the Earth, as with the exposure of white chalk at Gravesend.’
    • ‘The company bought the land last year and started work on the site by digging into the chalk, creating a white bank which has become a landmark in the town.’
    • ‘It passes upwards into almost flat-lying white coccolith chalk with parallel lines of black flint nodules.’
    • ‘Across the valley from Monkton Combe, high above Bath, you can see the famous Westbury White Horse, the chalk image of mysterious origin.’
    • ‘Winter sweet, Chimonanthus praecox, will grow quite happily on chalk or limestone soils and fill the garden with spicy winter fragrance.’
    • ‘This shrubby climber occurs in woods and hedgerows in chalk and limestone areas of Southern England.’
    • ‘While the factory's existence is unmissable by its towering chimney that dominates the skyline, the location of its chalk quarry near the White Horse is rather more hidden.’
    • ‘Again Dave explains that this is a fantastic place for wildlife and one of the few places in the country where you can see white chalk cliffs untouched by man.’
    • ‘While most people consider chalk to be white in colour, when weathered it can be grey and red (due to iron staining).’
    • ‘The air smells like moist potting soil, the skin of potatoes… the damp chalk of limestone.’
    • ‘A deposit that is similar to chalk is diatomaceous chert.’
    • ‘In the north-east is agricultural land on chalk or limestone well drained by rivers.’
    • ‘Calcium carbonate exists as whole mountain ranges of chalk, limestone, and marble.’
    • ‘It grows on chalk or limestone soils, usually in sunny, open grassland but also on south-facing hedge-banks and woodland margins.’
    • ‘Groundwater can react with chalk and limestone to produce carbon dioxide that displaces the normal air in a confined space.’
    • ‘Deposits of their skeletons produced much of the Mesozoic chalk and limestone.’
    • ‘Sprawled on the floor, her skin as white as chalk, her sightless eyes staring up the ceiling, was the body of an old lady.’
    • ‘As the androids began their attack, Ravena noticed that their eyes were as white as chalk.’
    1. 1.1 A chalklike substance (calcium sulfate), made into white or colored sticks used for drawing or writing on a blackboard.
      • ‘At various times she was told to make the sign of the cross using black or white chalk; if she chose black she would be considered a demon.’
      • ‘Worse still, when the team returned they found that the baggage handlers at Auckland airport had scrawled ‘losers’ in white chalk across all their bags.’
      • ‘Madeleine explained the classrooms in St Bede's sister school in Tanzania were very basic with blackboards, chalk and windows without glass.’
      • ‘He portrays his wife with the lightest of touches, using red chalk, heightened with white in soft, feathery strokes which evince the profound French influence on his art.’
      • ‘‘Very well,’ said the master, the circle, outlined in white chalk, began to grow darker.’
      • ‘Somehow I don't think those plush corporate boxes at Cardiff have a drawing board and chalk.’
      • ‘His presentation drawings, portraits, and character heads, usually made in charcoal or white chalk, were also in wide demand from discerning collectors.’
      • ‘I knew white farmers whose idea of education for black children was a blackboard, a few sticks of chalk and a chair for an untrained teacher.’
      • ‘I walked up to the front of the room, where the chalk board was, and grabbed a piece of white chalk.’
      • ‘Peggy took her place at the window back inside the recovery room and watched as the detectives took their pictures, and outlined the body with white chalk.’
      • ‘‘Some used to throw chalk or even the blackboard rubber at you if you wouldn't stop talking,’ she says.’
      • ‘This exhibition features drawings in mixed media chalk, charcoal and graphite drawings on paper which have evolved from studies of the Achill landscape.’
      • ‘He took out a white piece of chalk and gave it to Rena.’
      • ‘A large Fleur-de-lis is drawn with blue and white chalk on the parking lot.’
      • ‘With white chalk, a recent innovation, he wrote an E on the slate.’
      • ‘Using white chalk, a geometric shape was lightly sketched, filling the paper to achieve balance.’
      • ‘The whole class stopped, their eyes on me, and the teacher turned away from the board and pointed a short stub of blackboard chalk at me.’
      • ‘I got up and found a perfect piece of white chalk waiting for me.’
      • ‘I turned quickly and grabbed a piece of chalk off the black board on one of the walls.’
      • ‘Here on planet Earth white chalk on black slate provides plenty of contrast.’
    2. 1.2Geology A series of strata consisting mainly of chalk.
      • ‘The coccolithophorids range in age from Triassic to Recent, and form a major constituent of Mesozoic and Tertiary chalks.’
      • ‘Pore-filling cementation is also common during the diagenesis of chalks, resulting in rapid porosity loss.’
      • ‘Recent work on Upper Cretaceous sequence stratigraphy in European basins has demonstrated that chalks provide valuable information on short- and long-term sea-level change.’
      • ‘The flora extracted from the underlying Maastrichtian chalks is sparse, but indicative of open marine conditions.’
      • ‘The cited examples are all interpreted as large-scale erosional scour-channels, variously associated with cemented hardgrounds, conglomeratic and nodular chalks, and debris.’
  • 2

    short for French chalk


  • 1Draw or write with chalk.

    • ‘Too bad it did not intrigue the campus when one Republican chalked pro-life statistics and statements around campus juxtaposing the pro-choice statements.’
    • ‘Between 150,000 and 250,000 people attended the march, carrying placards, chalking the city squares with peace signs and lying in the road to symbolise dead civilians.’
    • ‘It didn't take long for us to catch on, to have contests to see who could throw the farthest, to see who could hit a target chalked on the barn wall, apples exploding and leaving their wet circles on the paintless wood.’
    • ‘Mrs. Medori had chalked in the word ‘LOVE’ which I found endearing, since she speaks no English at all.’
    • ‘If you ask, they have a little copy of the blackboard, chalked in English, that they will bring to your table.’
    • ‘My former student Eric reports that chalking sidewalks does seem to be illegal in New York.’
    • ‘I have been drawing, painting and chalking since I was 2 years old.’
    • ‘Gerardo, a bespoke tailor from Naples with 52 years of experience in the trade, started chalking cloth again.’
    • ‘Would their children chalk it in doorways before they knew its meaning as a trademark?’
    • ‘The Little League field at Garvanza Park looks like a post card of 1950s Norman Rockwell Iowa with its trimmed lawn and chalked base paths.’
    1. 1.1 Draw or write on (a surface) with chalk.
      ‘blackboards chalked with Japanese phrases’
      • ‘The latest incarnation looks every part the French bistro, from the wooden floor and chairs and prints on the wall to the fresh flowers on the table and blackboards chalked up with dishes to tempt even the most iron-willed of dieters.’
      • ‘Towards evening, children were chalking peace signs on the asphalt tiles.’
      • ‘Carefully and deliberately a list of headings was chalked on the blackboard.’
      • ‘In addition to the excellent guide books, a blackboard has chalked listings of the highlights on any particular day.’
      • ‘The crowd broke into renewed cheering when this was chalked on a blackboard.’
      • ‘The menu offered a selection of fish, meat and vegetarian options, with almost as many specials chalked on the blackboard.’
      • ‘I've come up with a verse myself which is chalked up on the blackboard at the moment but I am hoping we can replace it with a better one written by a guest.’
      • ‘The simple plastic weave of a café chair, a blackboard chalked with the specials du jour, the cloudy comfort of a cool pastis and the sinuous scent of coffee and fresh-baked bread.’
      • ‘I remember one slogan chalked on a blackboard in the main hall: ‘The autocracy of the articulate!’’
      • ‘As a way of reminding and motivating students, you can see chalked on blackboards in most classrooms countdowns of the days to the examination and some encouraging words.’
      • ‘The exhibition was inspired by the homeless Sydney man, Arthur Stace who walked the city for decades chalking the word Eternity on pavements and walls in a perfect copperplate script.’
      • ‘To get the latest news, thousands would flock to the newspaper offices themselves, arrayed along Park Row near city hall, to watch the headlines get chalked up on giant blackboards.’
      • ‘At one stage the signs were chalked on a piece of wood.’
      • ‘Each engine is attended to in turn, usually according to a roster chalked on a blackboard.’
      • ‘On a blackboard was chalked a list of meat pies for sale; I once asked for a steak and kidney pie, and the assistant descended a ladder into the basement and brought it up from the freezer.’
      • ‘I counted more than 20 dishes chalked up on the blackboard and was pleasantly surprised with what was on offer.’
      • ‘One man with a red tail invited people to scatter bread inside a dove he chalked onto the stone slabs.’
      • ‘Mr Howard has been running a series of successful bargains, chalking up offers on the large blackboard outside his store.’
      • ‘I looked up at the menu chalked on the blackboard behind her.’
      • ‘She did not, as I had hoped, lead us through the routines in slow motion, with the aid of diagrams chalked up on a blackboard.’
    2. 1.2 Rub (something, especially a pool cue) with chalk.
      • ‘But those of a literary bent were quick to realise the identity of the mystery guest, thoughtfully chalking his cue as he sought to get out of a snooker.’
      • ‘You can be chalked and loaded and assured as hell, but if you don't know how your table rolls or where to aim, you're banking too much on lucky shots.’
      • ‘Taking only a moment to chalk his cue, he got down on the table and potted the five.’
      • ‘He chalks the tip of his cue with methodical twists of the wrist.’
      • ‘You know what I mean, those blue cubes that you use to chalk up your cue when you're playing snooker or pool in an attempt to make it look like you know what you're doing.’
      • ‘Former world champion Steve Davis chalks his cue as the UK Snooker Championships got under way today at York's Barbican Centre.’
      • ‘Regulars at the Pattern Store Bar in Penzance Drive, Swindon are chalking their cues ready for the visit of the former World Champion snooker player on Wednesday, February 26.’
      • ‘Between each shot he studied the table carefully, chalking his cue.’
      • ‘After a pause to chalk his cue, Des sank his last spot and quickly dispatched the black.’
      • ‘She slowly stalks around the table, taking her time chalking the cue, and she seems to be winning most of the games.’
  • 2British Charge (drinks bought in a bar) to a person's account.


  • as different as (or like) chalk and cheese

    • Fundamentally different or incompatible.

      • ‘But they are as different as chalk and cheese, both in appearance and otherwise: Walt is a ladies' man and an aspiring actor, while Bob is an unassuming athlete with terrible stage fright.’
      • ‘So I guess the locals are as different as chalk and cheese.’
      • ‘The scenarios are as different as chalk and cheese.’
      • ‘Whether this turns out to be true or not, in my opinion, hunting and fishing are as different as chalk and cheese so I stay out of an argument that does not involve me as a fisherman.’
      • ‘More than one friend has admitted that he can be a nightmare at times, but you can't take away his talent even though, in most respects, he and Robinson are as different as chalk and cheese.’
      • ‘Second, it must not expect the public to distinguish between different types of nanotechnology, even if they are as different as chalk and cheese.’
      • ‘They are as different as chalk and cheese - the dapper Aussie and the typically gruff Yorkshireman.’
      • ‘The pair were as different as chalk and cheese but between them they forged out 29 century opening stands - and Lumb would probably argue the number would have been much higher if his celebrated partner had not run him out so many times.’
      • ‘Like Morecambe and Wise, Laurel and Hardy or even Starsky and Hutch, Sale's coaching duo of Jim Mallinder and Steve Diamond are as different as chalk and cheese.’
      • ‘Treats as different as chalk and cheese will feature on consecutive nights next week.’
  • by a long chalk

    • By far.

      • ‘The position against Europe has not changed much either - Germany and France are still ahead by a long chalk.’
      • ‘He claimed that whatever musical advantages The Ten may have Letters and Colours are the better dancers, by a long chalk.’
      • ‘‘We believe that we have, by a long chalk, the easiest, least disruptive, and fastest migration path from your current situation to a demand driven manufacturing system at an early phase of the project’.’
      • ‘As well as being top scorers in the Bundesliga by a long chalk, their attackers have stood up in the Champions League.’
      • ‘Only a third of the economy has been denationalised, which is not considered enough by a long chalk.’
      • ‘They know instinctively what to do and Kirwan clearly recognised that quality in Griffen who was my man of the match by a long chalk.’
      • ‘Microsoft's biggest customer for Internet Explorer by a long chalk finally seems on the brink of kissing the software goodbye - or alternatively, it's just playing a little hard-ball.’
      • ‘The winner, by a long chalk, is that old stalwart The Sound of Music.’
      • ‘Toussaint's most recent novel, Faire l' amour, is by a long chalk the darkest of his fictions to date.’
      • ‘That very successful implementation is going to be hardest of the criteria to fulfill, by a long chalk.’
  • not by a long chalk

    • By no means; not at all.

      ‘they weren't beaten yet, not by a long chalk’
      by no means, by no manner of means, not at all, in no way, not in the least, not in the slightest, not the least bit, certainly not, absolutely not, definitely not, on no account, under no circumstances
      View synonyms

Phrasal Verbs

  • chalk something out

    • Sketch or plan something.

      ‘we have already chalked out the strategy for conducting raids’
      • ‘While the strategy at the think-tank level may well be in place, those who have chalked it out face the absence of a well-oiled machinery that can effectively implement it.’
      • ‘After I chalk it out, I move it inside the house and sit down and look at it for a long time.’
      • ‘Of course the easiest way to make your own batter's box template is to just chalk it out alongside a tape measure and a level.’
      • ‘The formation a football manager chalks out on a blackboard can also sum up his outlook on life.’
      • ‘We are looking at increasing our presence in India and for this a clear growth map has been chalked out.’
      • ‘Then he used a flame template that we found on the net and chalked it out on the seat, made them as symmetrical as possible, and then he did his upholstery thing with a layer of some type of material underneath.’
      • ‘The artist begins by first drawing the scene in miniature and then chalking it out to actual dimensions on black tarpaper.’
      • ‘What better way is there for Mos Burger to inform of the traceability of its agricultural products than a small blackboard chalking it out before your very eyes!’
      • ‘The goals of this initiative are rather blurry, the details still being chalked out, but let's see where it goes.’
      • ‘Instead, the concerned citizens drawn from various parts of the city were keen on chalking out ways to aid the Corporation and other agencies in the months to come.’
  • chalk something up

    • 1Achieve something noteworthy.

      ‘he has chalked up a box-office success’
      • ‘These companies have staged many splendid shows at the National Concert Hall over the years and this three-night run can be chalked up among their successes.’
      • ‘Residents who oppose the construction of the Sarcee extension may not have won the battle to prevent negotiations on the Memorandum of Understanding, but they're chalking it up as a partial victory.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, two of those losses were chalked up to the Red Deer Kings.’
      • ‘She's even chalked up one of the country's top biology marks.’
      • ‘Sure, they have been beaten by everybody and their grandmothers since September, not even having chalked up a draw.’
      • ‘Old Malton chalked up their fourth away draw from five games after a 1-1 draw at Thorpe.’
      • ‘Even if everything goes according to plan - and that is a big ‘if’ - many years of gruelling negotiations lie ahead before a genuine achievement can be chalked up.’
      • ‘Every news story over the last month which points to support for a tax cut is chalked up as a victory for the president.’
      • ‘Listen, though you've chalked up quite a few in your lifetime, don't let it get you down.’
      • ‘The Kildare man knows the stroke will be chalked up as a winner in his horse racing mad constituency where obviously a nod is as good as a wink…’
      achieve, attain, accomplish, gain, earn, win, succeed in making, reach, make, get, obtain
      View synonyms
    • 2Ascribe something to a particular cause.

      ‘I chalked my sleeplessness up to nerves’
      • ‘There are some things we can chalk up to budgetary constraints and fiscal realities; there are others that we can chalk up to bad priorities.’
      • ‘I can't really explain why that is, so maybe we'll just have to chalk it down to the perplexing schematics of the plot and the strange blankness of most of the characters.’
      • ‘Again, I chalk this up to the low budget they must have had.’
      • ‘Now I'm inclined to chalk that up to sheer dumb luck, or more accurately, to contingency.’
      • ‘If none of the scenarios and few of the characters seem particularly original, chalk it up to six-decade-old source material.’
      • ‘At the time I chalked the whole thing up to a careless housemate, but I've just received something that has made me rethink my assumption.’
      • ‘Though Mercatto can be unbelievably busy, I have never waited for a table and chalk it up to extremely efficient service.’
      • ‘Let's all just chalk this up to poetic license and go with the Japan thing.’
      • ‘I thanked my relative for her advice and chalked up the tears to her having a melodramatic midlife crisis.’
      • ‘But the service certainly wasn't entirely bad, and I chalk the flaws up to the fact that the place is new.’
      attribute, assign, ascribe, put down, set down, accredit, credit, give the credit for, impute
      View synonyms


Old English cealc (also denoting lime), related to Dutch kalk and German Kalk, from Latin calx (see calx).