balance

noun
bal·​ance | \ ˈba-lən(t)s How to pronounce balance (audio) \

Definition of balance

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : physical equilibrium trouble keeping your balance on a sailboat lost his balance and fell a boxer kept off balance for a whole round
b : the ability to retain one's balance Gymnasts must have a good sense of balance.
2a : stability produced by even distribution of weight on each side of the vertical axis when the two sides of the scale are in balance tipped the statue off balance
b : equipoise between contrasting, opposing, or interacting elements … the balance we strike between security and freedom.— Earl Warren Both parties were interviewed to provide balance in the report. the right balance of diet and exercise
c accounting : equality between the totals of the two sides of an account
3a : an aesthetically pleasing integration of elements achieving balance in a work of art
b grammar : the juxtaposition in writing of syntactically parallel (see parallel entry 1 sense 3c) constructions containing similar or contrasting ideas (such as "to err is human; to forgive, divine")
4a accounting : an amount in excess especially on the credit side of an account has a comfortable balance in the bank You must maintain a minimum balance of $1000 in your account to avoid fees.
b : weight or force of one side in excess of another The balance of the evidence lay on the side of the defendant.
c : something left over : remainder answers will be given in the balance of this chapter— R. W. Murray
5 : mental and emotional steadiness I doubt that Thoreau would be thrown off balance by the fantastic sights and sounds of the 20th century.— E. B. White
6 : an instrument for weighing: such 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
7 : a means of judging or deciding the balance of a free election
8 : a counterbalancing weight, force, or influence The comedic character serves as a balance to the serious subject matter of the play.
9 : an oscillating wheel operating with a hairspring to regulate the movement of a timepiece a watch's balance
in the balance or in balance
: with the fate or outcome about to be determined our future hangs in the balance as we await his decision
on balance
: with all things considered the meeting went well on balance

balance

verb
balanced; balancing

Definition of balance (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to poise or arrange in or as if in balance balancing a book on her head The legislature hasn't balanced the budget in years.
b : to bring into harmony or proportion I struggled to balance my career and family life. a balanced diet
c : to bring to a state or position of balance (see balance entry 1 sense 2) balanced the scales by adding a little more on one side
2a(1) accounting : to compute the difference between the debits and credits of (an account) balancing a company's books
(2) : to pay the amount due on : settle sent a check to balance her account
b(1) : to arrange so that one set of elements exactly equals another balance a mathematical equation
(2) chemistry : to complete (a chemical equation) so that the same number of atoms and electric charges of each kind appears on each side
3a : counterbalance, offset He served black coffee to help balance out the sweetness of the dessert. balance one consideration against another
b : to equal or equalize in weight, number, or proportion The good times balanced the bad times.
4 : to weigh in or as if in a balance (see balance entry 1 sense 6) balance the profit and loss to see what had been gained

intransitive verb

1 : to become balanced or established in balance Try balancing on one foot. The good times and bad times balanced out.
2 : to be an equal counterbalance often used with out His speed will likely balance out his competitor's greater strength.The discount and the shipping charge balance each other out.
3 : waver sense 1 balances and temporizes on matters that demand action

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Other Words from balance

Noun

balanced \ ˈba-​lən(t)st How to pronounce balanced (audio) \ adjective

Examples of balance in a Sentence

Noun

She had trouble keeping her balance as the boat rocked back and forth. The skater suddenly lost his balance and fell. Another skater bumped into him and knocked him off balance. Gymnasts need flexibility and balance. She has a good sense of balance. To provide balance in her news story, she interviewed members of both political parties. Temperature changes could upset the delicate balance of life in the forest. To lose weight you need the proper balance of diet and exercise. The food had a perfect balance of sweet and spicy flavors. It's important to keep your life in balance.

Verb

I find it difficult to balance on one foot. He had trouble balancing on his skis. He helped his daughter balance on her bicycle before she started peddling. The legislature is still trying to balance the state's budget. He balances his checkbook every month. Something's wrong: the books don't balance.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

What could change, however, is the balance within the divisions. Jon Wilner Pac-12 Hotline, The Seattle Times, "Way-too-early Pac-12 football predictions: Can Washington rule the North once again?," 23 Jan. 2019 All along the canals, a marvelous sense of composition, of balance between water, trees, buildings, and sky. Steve King, Condé Nast Traveler, "Why We Keep Going Back to Amsterdam," 24 Dec. 2018 That balance is essential because while this is an animated film, Miles Morales is one of the most relatable, vulnerable lead characters to appear in a Spider-Man movie. Bryan Bishop, The Verge, "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is dazzling, hilarious, and unique," 14 Dec. 2018 This balance of ecology and economy is at the root of a grand transition underway in coastal Louisiana. Nate Berg, Curbed, "Can engineering save Louisiana’s coastline?," 7 Nov. 2018 The balance of longer-in-the-front and shorter-in-the-back is a style switch-up Stewart, who spent a good part of the last year wearing a modern mullet, with the top and front shorter than the hair in the back. Marci Robin, Allure, "Kristen Stewart Chopped Off Her Hair and Bleached It Blonde Again," 16 Sep. 2018 The event restores a degree of balance to the relationship that enables one of the most excruciatingly realistic TV fights between two friends in recent memory, in which buried resentments are dug up and toxic patterns thrown out. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "The Love Story of Debbie and Ruth," 10 July 2018 As a result, many filers are receiving smaller refunds this year than in the past, and some who usually get refunds will have a balance due. Laura Saunders, WSJ, "What You Need to Know About the New Tax Law (Now That You’re Doing Your Taxes)," 15 Feb. 2019 Too much of a particular detergent could affect the antiwear balance. Paul Weissler, Popular Mechanics, "How to Pick the Right Motor Oil for Your Car," 14 Feb. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

While China is building more aircraft carriers and submarines to balance the scales, that process will take many years. David Hambling, Popular Mechanics, "What You Need to Know About the South China Sea, the World's Next Hot Spot," 27 Feb. 2019 The vote to change how classifications are figured returns to the system in use before 2007 when the Representative Assembly made an effort to balance the classifications. Nathan Joyce, The Seattle Times, "WIAA votes in two big changes to high-school classification system," 28 Jan. 2019 In many ways, the evolution of the Christmas message mirrors the royal family's struggle to transform into a modern monarchy—to balance their roles as iconic figureheads with the insatiable thirst for information about their lives and relationships. Katie Frost, Town & Country, "How the Queen's First Televised Christmas Broadcast Changed the Royal Family Forever," 25 Dec. 2018 As a consequence, both blood-sugar levels and emotions start to balance out. Daisy Finer, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Golden Door Is the World's Most Iconic Spa," 21 Dec. 2018 Is there a perfect world for Shevek, a place to balance his love of freedom with his love of family and his uncompromising pursuit of the unknown? Vox Staff, Vox, "The most thought-provoking books the Vox staff read in 2018," 21 Dec. 2018 Benefits of the drink, as cited on their e-commerce site, include detoxifying properties, electrolytes, antioxidants, minerals, and the ability to balance PH levels. Essence.com, "This Black-Owned Water Company Is Gaining Global Attention," 11 July 2018 In order to prevent a needle-type compass from pointing up or down it is usually weighted on one side to balance the vertical component of the magnetic field. Rhett Allain, WIRED, "Can Your Electronic Gadgets Interfere With Your Compass?," 10 July 2018 Blum’s group accuses Harvard of using the documents to balance the racial makeup of the incoming class, a practice that has been ruled unconstitutional in previous court cases. Washington Post, "Suit alleging bias pulls back curtain on Harvard admissions," 9 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'balance.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of balance

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 6

Verb

1588, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2a(1)

History and Etymology for balance

Noun and Verb

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

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Learn More about balance

Statistics for balance

Last Updated

10 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for balance

The first known use of balance was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for balance

balance

noun

English Language Learners Definition of balance

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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

balance

verb

English Language Learners Definition of balance (Entry 2 of 2)

: 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

balance

noun
bal·​ance | \ ˈba-ləns How to pronounce balance (audio) \

Kids Definition of balance

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a steady position or condition The gymnast kept her balance.
2 : something left over : remainder He spent the balance of his allowance.
3 : an instrument for weighing
4 : a state in which things occur in equal or proper amounts a balance of work and fun
5 : the amount of money in a bank account
6 : an amount of money still owed

balance

verb
balanced; balancing

Kids Definition of balance (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to make or keep steady : keep from falling … their slippery … forefeet did not allow them to balance there.— Dick King-Smith, Pigs Might Fly
2 : to make the two sides of (an account) add up to the same total
3 : to be or make equal in weight, number, or amount You must balance your schoolwork and outside activities.

balance

noun
bal·​ance | \ ˈbal-ən(t)s How to pronounce balance (audio) \

Medical Definition of balance

1 : an instrument for weighing
2 : mental and emotional steadiness
3a : the relation in physiology between the intake of a particular substance and its excretion used with positive when the intake of a substance is greater than the body's excretion of it and with negative when the intake of a substance is less than the body's excretion of it — see nitrogen balance, water balance
b : the maintenance (as in laboratory cultures) of a population at about the same condition and level

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Comments on balance

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