A small static shape in the game of life, found commonly in the wild. The block is both volatile and regenerative, making it a particularly interesting shape as far as its involvement with other cells. Any cell within 2 units of it, other than directly along a diagonal, can produce a reaction from the block, and any cell adjacent to the block (such as the result of such reaction) kills adjacent cells within the block, but a lone block with one corner missing regenerates that corner in the next generation. See beacon. Useful for growing herbs in ADOM.


1) (shortened from mental block) A sort of organic stoprule or safety valve that prevents people from going crazy when they consider thought experiments exploiting combinatorial explosion. "It's a good thing I had a block just then! I was getting a trifle dizzy when he started going on about storing all the possible descriptions of the universe in a book made out of tiny galaxies pretending they're electrons."

2) A small but obdurate obstacle preventing the smooth operation of a mechanism, a spanner in the works. Hence, mental block, an objection to functionalism obsessively maintained in the face of all manner of refutations, blandishments and appeals to common cause.

A block has many different meanings, my description of a block would be a move performed in a martial art to stop an attacker or opponent from hitting you.

BLOB = B = Bloggs Family

block v.

[common; from process scheduling terminology in OS theory] 1. vi. To delay or sit idle while waiting for something. "We're blocking until everyone gets here." Compare busy-wait. 2. `block on' vt. To block, waiting for (something). "Lunch is blocked on Phil's arrival."

--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.

In railroad signalling terminology, a block is a contiguous section of track, with a signal at its head.

The signal's state (red, yellow, or green) informs the engineer of the train how far ahead the next train is, and thus whether or not a train is permitted to enter the block.

When talking about 'concurrency' in computer systems (multiple processes or threads executing at the same time), it is sometimes said that a process 'blocks'. This has to do with one process holding some resource, and another process having to wait its turn to access that resource until the first process is finished and releases it.

Now, if I was coming in from the cold and hearing the expression 'blocks' for the first time, I would probably tell myself something similar to the following story, and try to reason out the meaning and proper usage of 'block' from it:

JP is a hungry process that is eating the chocolate cake.

Jeff is a hungry process that sees the chocolate cake, and wants to partake of its chocolatey goodness too.

Jeff reaches for the cake, but in a bold move, JP holds his hand out and prevents Jeff from getting to the cake!

How should I go about describing this stalemate? Well, that's easy, I would say that JP 'blocks' Jeff from accessing the cake.

I might also say that Jeff 'is Blocked' by JP. To summarize: JP is blocking, he blocks Jeff, and Jeff is blocked.

You are perhaps saying, "Yes, we get it, this is an easy and straightforward story to understand, you need not repeat yourself so many times... JP is blocking, he blocks Jeff, Jeff is blocked. We understand, we see the analogy, concurrent processes sometimes block each other, it isn't hard. Get on with it."

The fact of the matter is, you don't understand. You, as I once did, have it completely wrong. Computer science has come up with their own 'de facto' usage of otherwise common and easily understood terminology. Computer science will not tell you JP Blocks. The scenario will be identical to the above: our two brave warriors, JP and Jeff; the coveted prize, the cake; all of the drama, the passion, the animal fury. Everything happens the same way, but computer science will claim that it is Jeff who blocks. Computer science will look you in the eye, while JP is holding his hand out, preventing jeff from accessing the cake, and will, without a trace of irony, calmly tell you that in this situation, "Jeff is blocking, Jeff blocks".

To me, this is the equivalent of saying that when JP is ravenously stuffing cake into his face, "the cake is eating, the cake eats". Now how stupid does it sound to say that the rapidly disappearing cake eats?

Stupid computer scientists.

Block (&?;), n. [OE. blok; cf. F. bloc (fr. OHG.), D. & Dan. blok, Sw. & G. block, OHG. bloch. There is also an OHG. bloch, biloh; bi by + the same root as that of E. lock. Cf. Block, v. t., Blockade, and see Lock.]


A piece of wood more or less bulky; a solid mass of wood, stone, etc., usually with one or more plane, or approximately plane, faces; as, a block on which a butcher chops his meat; a block by which to mount a horse; children's playing blocks, etc.

Now all our neighbors' chimneys smoke,
And Christmas blocks are burning.

All her labor was but as a block
Left in the quarry.


The solid piece of wood on which condemned persons lay their necks when they are beheaded.

Noble heads which have been brought to the block.
E. Everett.


The wooden mold on which hats, bonnets, etc., are shaped. Hence:

The pattern or shape of a hat.

He wears his faith but as the fashion of his hat; it ever changes with the next block.


A large or long building divided into separate houses or shops, or a number of houses or shops built in contact with each other so as to form one building; a row of houses or shops.


A square, or portion of a city inclosed by streets, whether occupied by buildings or not.

The new city was laid out in rectangular blocks, each block containing thirty building lots. Such an average block, comprising 282 houses and covering nine acres of ground, exists in Oxford Street.
Lond. Quart. Rev.


A grooved pulley or sheave incased in a frame or shell which is provided with a hook, eye, or strap, by which it may be attached to an object. It is used to change the direction of motion, as in raising a heavy object that can not be conveniently reached, and also, when two or more such sheaves are compounded, to change the rate of motion, or to exert increased force; -- used especially in the rigging of ships, and in tackles.

7. (Falconry)

The perch on which a bird of prey is kept.


Any obstruction, or cause of obstruction; a stop; a hindrance; an obstacle; as, a block in the way.


A piece of box or other wood for engravers' work.

10. (Print.)

A piece of hard wood (as mahogany or cherry) on which a stereotype or electrotype plate is mounted to make it type high.


A blockhead; a stupid fellow; a dolt. [Obs.]

What a block art thou !


A section of a railroad where the block system is used. See Block system, below.

A block of shares (Stock Exchange), a large number of shares in a stock company, sold in a lump. Bartlett. --
Block printing.
(a) A mode of printing (common in China and Japan) from engraved boards by means of a sheet of paper laid on the linked surface and rubbed with a brush. S. W. Williams.

(b) A method of printing cotton cloth and paper hangings with colors, by pressing them upon an engraved surface coated with coloring matter. --
Block system on railways, a system by which the track is divided into sections of three or four miles, and trains are so run by the guidance of electric signals that no train enters a section or block before the preceding train has left it.


© Webster 1913

Block (&?;), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Blocked (&?;); p. pr. & vb. n. Blocking.] [Cf. F. bloquer, fr. bloc block. See Block, n.]


To obstruct so as to prevent passage or progress; to prevent passage from, through, or into, by obstructing the way; -- used both of persons and things; -- often followed by up; as, to block up a road or harbor.

With moles . . . would block the port.

A city . . . besieged and blocked about.


To secure or support by means of blocks; to secure, as two boards at their angles of intersection, by pieces of wood glued to each.


To shape on, or stamp with, a block; as, to block a hat.

To block out, to begin to reduce to shape; to mark out roughly; to lay out; as, to block out a plan.


© Webster 1913

Block, n.


In Australia, one of the large lots into which public land, when opened to settlers, is divided by the government surveyors.

2. (Cricket)


The position of a player or bat when guarding the wicket.


A block hole.


The popping crease. [R.]

Back blocks, Australian pastoral country which is remote from the seacoast or from a river.


© Webster 1913

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