Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


noun bal·ance \ˈba-lən(t)s\

Simple Definition of balance

  • : the state of having your weight spread equally so that you do not fall

  • : the ability to move or to remain in a position without losing control or falling

  • : a state in which different things occur in equal or proper amounts or have an equal or proper amount of importance

Full Definition of balance

  1. 1 :  an instrument for weighing: as a :  a beam that is supported freely in the center and has two pans of equal weight suspended from its ends b :  a device that uses the elasticity of a spiral spring for measuring weight or force

  2. 2 :  a means of judging or deciding

  3. 3 :  a counterbalancing weight, force, or influence

  4. 4 :  an oscillating wheel operating with a hairspring to regulate the movement of a timepiece

  5. 5 a :  stability produced by even distribution of weight on each side of the vertical axis b :  equipoise between contrasting, opposing, or interacting elements c :  equality between the totals of the two sides of an account

  6. 6 a :  an aesthetically pleasing integration of elements b :  the juxtaposition in writing of syntactically parallel constructions containing similar or contrasting ideas

  7. 7 a :  physical equilibrium b :  the ability to retain one's balance

  8. 8 a :  weight or force of one side in excess of another b :  something left over :  remainder c :  an amount in excess especially on the credit side of an account

  9. 9 :  mental and emotional steadiness

bal·anced play \-lən(t)st\ adjective
in the balance or in balance
  1. :  with the fate or outcome about to be determined <our future hangs in the balance as we await his decision>

on balance
  1. :  with all things considered <the meeting went well on balance>

Examples of balance

  1. She had trouble keeping her balance as the boat rocked back and forth.

  2. The skater suddenly lost his balance and fell.

  3. Another skater bumped into him and knocked him off balance.

  4. Gymnasts need flexibility and balance.

  5. She has a good sense of balance.

  6. To provide balance in her news story, she interviewed members of both political parties.

  7. Temperature changes could upset the delicate balance of life in the forest.

  8. To lose weight you need the proper balance of diet and exercise.

  9. The food had a perfect balance of sweet and spicy flavors.

  10. It's important to keep your life in balance.

Origin of balance

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Vulgar Latin *bilancia, from Late Latin bilanc-, bilanx having two scalepans, from Latin bi- + lanc-, lanx plate

First Known Use: 13th century



verb bal·ance

Simple Definition of balance

  • : to make (something, such as a plate or your body) steady by keeping weight equal on all sides

  • : to adjust (an account or budget) so that the amount of money available is more than or equal to the amount of money that has been spent

  • : to check and make adjustments to financial records so that they are accurate

Full Definition of balance


  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 a (1) :  to compute the difference between the debits and credits of (an account) (2) :  to pay the amount due on :  settle b (1) :  to arrange so that one set of elements exactly equals another <balance a mathematical equation> (2) :  to complete (a chemical equation) so that the same number of atoms and electric charges of each kind appears on each side

  3. 2 a :  counterbalance, offset b :  to equal or equalize in weight, number, or proportion

  4. 3 :  to weigh in or as if in a balance

  5. 4 a :  to bring to a state or position of equipoise b :  to poise in or as if in balance c :  to bring into harmony or proportion

  6. intransitive verb
  7. 1 :  to become balanced or established in balance

  8. 2 :  to be an equal counterpoise

  9. 3 :  waver 1 <balances and temporizes on matters that demand action>

Examples of balance

  1. I find it difficult to balance on one foot.

  2. He had trouble balancing on his skis.

  3. He helped his daughter balance on her bicycle before she started peddling.

  4. The legislature is still trying to balance the state's budget.

  5. He balances his checkbook every month.

  6. Something's wrong: the books don't balance.


First Known Use of balance


Medical Dictionary


noun bal·ance \ˈbal-ən(t)s\

Medical Definition of balance

  1. 1:  an instrument for weighing

  2. 2:  mental and emotional steadiness

  3. 3a:  the relation in physiology between the intake of a particular nutrient and its excretion—used with positive when the nutrient is in excess of the bodily metabolic requirement and with negative when dietary inadequacy and withdrawal of bodily reserves is present; see nitrogen balance, water balanceb:  the maintenance (as in laboratory cultures) of a population at about the same condition and level

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up balance? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 13, 2016

a trying or distressing experience

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


How much does a batman (the Turkish unit of measurement) weigh?

196.5 pounds 2.2 pounds 16.96 pounds 100 pounds
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.