Definition of chalk in US English:



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

    • ‘Calcium carbonate exists as whole mountain ranges of chalk, limestone, and marble.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘While most people consider chalk to be white in colour, when weathered it can be grey and red (due to iron staining).’
    • ‘It passes upwards into almost flat-lying white coccolith chalk with parallel lines of black flint nodules.’
    • ‘In the north-east is agricultural land on chalk or limestone well drained by rivers.’
    • ‘This shrubby climber occurs in woods and hedgerows in chalk and limestone areas of Southern England.’
    • ‘Deposits of their skeletons produced much of the Mesozoic chalk and limestone.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It grows on chalk or limestone soils, usually in sunny, open grassland but also on south-facing hedge-banks and woodland margins.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Sprawled on the floor, her skin as white as chalk, her sightless eyes staring up the ceiling, was the body of an old lady.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘As the androids began their attack, Ravena noticed that their eyes were as white as chalk.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Groundwater can react with chalk and limestone to produce carbon dioxide that displaces the normal air in a confined space.’
    1. 1.1 A substance (calcium sulfate) that is similar to chalk, made into white or colored sticks for writing or drawing.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This exhibition features drawings in mixed media chalk, charcoal and graphite drawings on paper which have evolved from studies of the Achill landscape.’
      • ‘I walked up to the front of the room, where the chalk board was, and grabbed a piece of white chalk.’
      • ‘‘Some used to throw chalk or even the blackboard rubber at you if you wouldn't stop talking,’ she says.’
      • ‘Here on planet Earth white chalk on black slate provides plenty of contrast.’
      • ‘A large Fleur-de-lis is drawn with blue and white chalk on the parking lot.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Somehow I don't think those plush corporate boxes at Cardiff have a drawing board and chalk.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Using white chalk, a geometric shape was lightly sketched, filling the paper to achieve balance.’
      • ‘Madeleine explained the classrooms in St Bede's sister school in Tanzania were very basic with blackboards, chalk and windows without glass.’
      • ‘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 got up and found a perfect piece of white chalk waiting for me.’
      • ‘With white chalk, a recent innovation, he wrote an E on the slate.’
      • ‘‘Very well,’ said the master, the circle, outlined in white chalk, began to grow darker.’
      • ‘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 turned quickly and grabbed a piece of chalk off the black board on one of the walls.’
      • ‘He took out a white piece of chalk and gave it to Rena.’
      • ‘His presentation drawings, portraits, and character heads, usually made in charcoal or white chalk, were also in wide demand from discerning collectors.’
    2. 1.2Geology A series of strata consisting mainly of chalk.
      • ‘The cited examples are all interpreted as large-scale erosional scour-channels, variously associated with cemented hardgrounds, conglomeratic and nodular chalks, and debris.’
      • ‘The coccolithophorids range in age from Triassic to Recent, and form a major constituent of Mesozoic and Tertiary chalks.’
      • ‘The flora extracted from the underlying Maastrichtian chalks is sparse, but indicative of open marine conditions.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 2

    short for French chalk


[with object]
  • 1Draw or write with chalk.

    • ‘I can only assume this is what happens when Hugh Dallas chalks off 0.2 of a Celtic goal or adds 0.1 to a Rangers strike.’
    • ‘If you ask, they have a little copy of the blackboard, chalked in English, that they will bring to your table.’
    • ‘People were chalking messages over the square.’
    • ‘McQueen has had notoriously bad relationships with his bosses - he used to chalk obscene messages onto the linings of suits he was tailoring in Savile Row.’
    • ‘Demonstrators chalked numerous messages in Library Square and along the route of the march.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘‘Taylor must go’ was chalked on the road in front of walls topped with razor wire.’
    • ‘The playground was awash with them, as were walls, corridors, exercise books and the backs of lower school pupils who could be held down while a pud was chalked onto their jersey.’
    • ‘There is even an evolving language of street markings that uses chalked symbols to alert passers-by to a WiFi network nearby.’
    • ‘A novelist who chalked her first words on a Lancaster windowsill has returned to her birthplace decades later.’
    • ‘One of them concerns Arthur Stace, the man who chalked the word ‘eternity’ from one end of town to the other.’
    • ‘Would their children chalk it in doorways before they knew its meaning as a trademark?’
    • ‘The 116th Infantry chalked this on the back of one of their vehicles going out on a patrol I accompanied.’
    • ‘Too bad it did not intrigue the campus when one Republican chalked pro-life statistics and statements around campus juxtaposing the pro-choice statements.’
    • ‘My former student Eric reports that chalking sidewalks does seem to be illegal in New York.’
    • ‘Even the specials menus, advertising milkshakes, egg creams and the Lakeview's trademark breakfast pizza are still chalked onto the wall.’
    • ‘I chalked a big poem on the street for my boyfriend.’
    • ‘In relation to chalking the front doorstep it has been suggested that the secret of an effective pattern was that no gaps were left, for it was through these gaps that the devil and spirits would enter the house.’
    • ‘Mrs. Medori had chalked in the word ‘LOVE’ which I found endearing, since she speaks no English at all.’
    • ‘This is a beautiful chance to vote for those who will be providing the microwaves in Kirk, chalking revolutionary slogans beside the graveyard, fighting against fee rises, not to mention a host of other beneficial activities.’
    • ‘Irishman Bob even chalked my name up on the pool player blackboard.’
    • ‘In retaliation she had chalked her own message pointing at her neighbour's house and when she saw she had got her view across, she went to wash it off.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Since I see it everywhere, I should take the hint and put it everywhere, hide it in messages, chalk it on walls etc.’
    • ‘She proceeds to chalk her slate with fresh attributes that represent all that Manderlay hopes to skewer.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The team went house to house, checking to see whether the drops had been administered, giving them if they had not, and then chalking the status upon wooden doors.’
    • ‘Numbers corresponding to seat numbers were chalked round the wheel of the bus, with a further mark on the mudguard.’
    1. 1.1 Draw or write on (a surface) with chalk.
      ‘blackboards chalked with Japanese phrases’
      • ‘The crowd broke into renewed cheering when this was chalked on a blackboard.’
      • ‘In addition to the excellent guide books, a blackboard has chalked listings of the highlights on any particular day.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The menu offered a selection of fish, meat and vegetarian options, with almost as many specials chalked on the blackboard.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Mr Howard has been running a series of successful bargains, chalking up offers on the large blackboard outside his store.’
      • ‘At one stage the signs were chalked on a piece of wood.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Carefully and deliberately a list of headings was chalked on the blackboard.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I counted more than 20 dishes chalked up on the blackboard and was pleasantly surprised with what was on offer.’
      • ‘Towards evening, children were chalking peace signs on the asphalt tiles.’
      • ‘I remember one slogan chalked on a blackboard in the main hall: ‘The autocracy of the articulate!’’
      • ‘I looked up at the menu chalked on the blackboard behind her.’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘Each engine is attended to in turn, usually according to a roster chalked on a blackboard.’
      • ‘One man with a red tail invited people to scatter bread inside a dove he chalked onto the stone slabs.’
    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.’
      • ‘She slowly stalks around the table, taking her time chalking the cue, and she seems to be winning most of the games.’
      • ‘He chalks the tip of his cue with methodical twists of the wrist.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Former world champion Steve Davis chalks his cue as the UK Snooker Championships got under way today at York's Barbican Centre.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Taking only a moment to chalk his cue, he got down on the table and potted the five.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘After a pause to chalk his cue, Des sank his last spot and quickly dispatched the black.’
  • 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Second, it must not expect the public to distinguish between different types of nanotechnology, even if they are as different as chalk and cheese.’
      • ‘The scenarios are as different as chalk and cheese.’
      • ‘They are as different as chalk and cheese - the dapper Aussie and the typically gruff Yorkshireman.’
      • ‘Treats as different as chalk and cheese will feature on consecutive nights next week.’
  • by a long chalk

    • By far.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘That very successful implementation is going to be hardest of the criteria to fulfill, 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.’
      • ‘The winner, by a long chalk, is that old stalwart The Sound of Music.’
      • ‘The position against Europe has not changed much either - Germany and France are still ahead by a long chalk.’
      • ‘Toussaint's most recent novel, Faire l' amour, is by a long chalk the darkest of his fictions to date.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘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’.’
  • not by a long chalk

    • By no means; not at all.

      ‘they weren't beaten yet, not by a long chalk’
      • ‘‘And,’ added Gilz, because he wasn't finished, not by a long chalk, ‘I bet that one of the tabloids sends a Diana look alike down to the registry office.’’
      • ‘USB may be built into almost all PCs that ship today, but that doesn't mean the majority of users are hooking peripherals up to their machines using that bus, not by a long chalk.’
      • ‘This is not the worst movie ever made - not by a long chalk.’
      • ‘They are not the world's most emotional sporting enthusiasts, not by a long chalk, but even they can lose perspective.’
      • ‘I may have disabilities and problems and troubles and stuff that holds me back, but I'm not done living! Not by a long chalk.’
      • ‘The toughest, not the prettiest, though, not by a long chalk.’
      • ‘We didn't manage the lot, not by a long chalk, but we managed this distant outpost.’
      • ‘But Kammy's not done it all, not by a long chalk, and he finds this irksome.’
      • ‘It's not the greatest opera ever written, not by a long chalk.’
      • ‘Horse racing is not perfect, not by a long chalk, but it has a future which can only get better.’
      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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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!’
      • ‘We are looking at increasing our presence in India and for this a clear growth map has been chalked out.’
      • ‘The formation a football manager chalks out on a blackboard can also sum up his outlook on life.’
      • ‘The goals of this initiative are rather blurry, the details still being chalked out, but let's see where it goes.’
      • ‘After I chalk it out, I move it inside the house and sit down and look at it for a long time.’
      • ‘The artist begins by first drawing the scene in miniature and then chalking it out to actual dimensions on black tarpaper.’
      • ‘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.’
  • chalk something up

    • 1Achieve something noteworthy.

      ‘he has chalked up a box-office success’
      • ‘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…’
      • ‘She's even chalked up one of the country's top biology marks.’
      • ‘Old Malton chalked up their fourth away draw from five games after a 1-1 draw at Thorpe.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, two of those losses were chalked up to the Red Deer Kings.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Listen, though you've chalked up quite a few in your lifetime, don't let it get you down.’
      • ‘Sure, they have been beaten by everybody and their grandmothers since September, not even having chalked up a draw.’
      • ‘Every news story over the last month which points to support for a tax cut is chalked up as a victory for the president.’
      • ‘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.’
      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’
      • ‘Let's all just chalk this up to poetic license and go with the Japan thing.’
      • ‘Again, I chalk this up to the low budget they must have had.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If none of the scenarios and few of the characters seem particularly original, chalk it up to six-decade-old source material.’
      • ‘Now I'm inclined to chalk that up to sheer dumb luck, or more accurately, to contingency.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      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).