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


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 outHis 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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Unfortunately, some individuals refuse to engage with us to resolve their balances. Anna Werner /, CBS News, "Alabama couple struggling after hospital sues over medical debt: "I wish you'd have let me die"," 20 Feb. 2020 For workers who have saved in a 401(k) for 10 straight years, their average balance was $328,200. Christine Romans, CNN, "Tale of two economies: 14% can't pay medical bills, 401(k)s hit record highs," 13 Feb. 2020 Could their use potentially disturb a league’s competitive balance? Coleman Hamstead, Washington Post, "‘Nobody talks about it because everyone is on it’: Adderall presents esports with an enigma," 13 Feb. 2020 Baray said the program could cover it with funds in its existing reserve balance. Krista Torralva,, "San Antonio City Council signs off on May ballot for Pre-K 4 SA sales tax," 13 Feb. 2020 For example, Virgin Atlantic and Air France flights can be credited to Delta SkyMiles, while those on British Airways and Qantas can build up your American Airlines AAdvantage balance. Eric Rosen, Condé Nast Traveler, "How to Figure Out Your Points and Miles Strategy for the Year," 20 Jan. 2020 After losing his balance, Goldman tells him to go away, but tensions continue to escalate after Silverman sets up shop nearby and Goldman whips out a can of spray paint and begins to paint his rival gold. Maria Pasquini,, "Watch Adam Sandler Play a Times Square Street Performer in Short Film from Uncut Gems Directors," 17 Jan. 2020 The United Labor Agency, the charitable arm of the AFL-CIO, has since restored the fund to its prior balance. Russell Blair,, "Capitol Week in Review: Lamont wants vote this month on tolls," 6 Dec. 2019 Turtle Odyssey's ecological lessons revolve around the green sea turtle's importance as a keystone species, playing a crucial role in keeping coral, seagrass and fellow brine-dwellers healthy and thriving, and their communal ocean digs in balance. Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Turtle Odyssey 3D': Film Review," 3 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb This finishing softens and balances the whiskey, and for those folks that don’t too much smokiness in their scotch (peat flavor), this is very approachable. Paul Daugherty,, "Doc's Morning Line: Strange team, strange season for John Brannen, UC Bearcats," 20 Feb. 2020 Scheduling strategy can be complicated when balancing winnable games with high-end competition. Michael Casagrande |, al, "From No. 1 to losing 5 of 9, what’s the deal with Alabama softball?," 20 Feb. 2020 Baldwin has gotten a jump on what’s been his toughest adjustment thus far, finding his way to classes and balancing school work. Jon Blau, Indianapolis Star, "IU football: How midyear enrollees are adjusting to Hoosiers," 17 Feb. 2020 Taste the dressing and add enough additional oil so the vinaigrette tastes nicely balanced. CBS News, "The Dish: Acclaimed pastry chef Claudia Fleming shares her favorite sweet and savory recipes," 15 Feb. 2020 In front, his hands folded, his forearms resting on a wooden barrier and balancing a tin cup, is the photograph’s protagonist: a grizzled old man, his mouth a thin line of despair. Arthur Lubow, New York Times, "Empathy and Artistry: Rediscovering Dorothea Lange," 13 Feb. 2020 However, balancing these multiple roles has helped Williams realize the importance of one of her most personal roles in life: being a mother. Cady Lang, Time, "Serena Williams Says Working Moms Are Superheroes: 'Women Need to Be Recognized'," 12 Feb. 2020 Giving the kitchen warmer, deeper colors also allows it to visually flow into the living room, where Palomino balances the openness of the space with layers and color. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "This Designer Creates a Home for Her Family With Surprises at Every Turn," 8 Feb. 2020 Officials from the Interior Department and U.S. Forest Service, who manage the lands, have said the new plans balance the region's economic interests against the need to safeguard natural and cultural wonders. Author: Sarah Kaplan, Juliet Eilperin, Anchorage Daily News, "Trump to auction drilling and grazing rights on Utah sites that were once in national monuments," 6 Feb. 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of balance


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 6


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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about balance

Time Traveler for balance

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for balance

Last Updated

24 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Balance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for balance


How to pronounce balance (audio)

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



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


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


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.


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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on balance

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!