- Obtain or withhold money by deceit or without justification; cheat or defraud.
- Obtain (money) fraudulently.
Originally a cribbage term, “bilk” means to cheat someone for one’s own gain, usually in situations involving money. It first appeared in the 1650s, and by the 1670s, was used in a more general sense as a synonym for “defraud.” Cribbage is a board game that involves cards and scoring within one’s “crib.” To bilk originally meant to spoil one’s score by playing a card that would prevent one’s opponent from scoring in his or her crib. It can also mean to swindle or to evade a payment.
Why this word?
It’s a foul-sounding word to describe a foul deed. Bilk. In such a money-focused society, often the wallet is the most sensitive place to hurt somebody. To bilk someone causes a painful, painful injury. We need more words like “bilk” in our vocabulary because it has a narrow, concise description. It says so much in four letters – cheating, but a specific type of cheating. You can’t bilk on your spouse with the guy from work or find some bilk codes online to make a video game easier. But you can dress up like a Girl Scout and create a fraudulent cookie order form with the intention of bilking all those little old ladies across town.
How to use bilk in a sentence?
“I sort of felt bad about claiming to have lost my house in the hurricane and bilking all those kind people, but this new car makes me feel better.”