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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

There is a careful balance of maintaining just the right amount. April Long, Town & Country, "Yes, You Can Get Filler for Your Under Eye Area—But Do You Need It?," 9 May 2019 Consumer Score: 72% give it 4 stars or higher The best balance between traditional design, portability, and price. Paige Szmodis, Popular Mechanics, "The 10 Best Portable Fire Pits to Build a Campfire Anywhere," 6 May 2019 That same year, 45 music festivals pledged that by 2022 their lineups would be a balance of male and female acts (which, in its promise, doesn't account for non-binary or gender non-conforming acts in their metrics). Caitlin Wolper, Teen Vogue, "Camp Cope on Supporting Other Women in Music and Calling Out Festival Lineups," 2 May 2019 The balance between science and art in his book is a perfect metaphor for bread baking itself. Annemarie Conte, Woman's Day, "What We Learned After Baking Nothing But Bread for 3 Days," 9 Apr. 2019 Under normal conditions, there will be a balance between the bacteria and fungus on our skin, Hye Jin Chung, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at Boston University School of Medicine, tells SELF. Sara Coughlin, SELF, "How to Know if You Have 'Fungal Acne'—and How to Treat it," 1 Apr. 2019 In order for Chi to circulate, there must be balance—otherwise known as the ancient philosophy of yin and yang. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "Why a Hot Ginger Bath Is the Perfect Detox Ritual for Winter," 26 Nov. 2018 Ideally, state revenues would be a balance of personal income tax, corporate and property tax and sales tax. sacbee, "Tax haircuts and concerts – or the rich? Californians consider the options," 9 July 2018 But in a congressional district that has famously been thorny to outsiders, trotting out the support of a mayor who doesn’t represent the voters you’re wooing can be a delicate balance. Matt Stout, BostonGlobe.com, "If you see Marty Walsh in the Merrimack Valley anytime soon, here’s why," 2 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The rise of the U.S. as a major LNG exporter has helped balance the domestic market amid surging production, the WSJ’s Ryan Dezember reports, while adding pressure on already low U.S. prices. Paul Page, WSJ, "Today’s Logistics Report: Sold on Tankers; Amazon’s Third-Party Gains; Robots Getting Stuck," 12 Apr. 2019 Nonetheless, as indicated by states’ rush toward sports betting in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision in May, politicians continue to pursue new forms of gambling, hopeful that voluntary taxation will help balance their budgets. Jonathan D. Cohen, Vox, "How lottery money helped build the United States," 24 Oct. 2018 Scott based his first term as governor on the premise of making the state more affordable by helping to balance the budget without raising taxes or fees. Fox News, "The Latest: Ellison wins Minnesota attorney general primary," 14 Aug. 2018 Selleck has been careful to balance his stardom with a devotion to family life and privacy. Jennifer Aldrich, Country Living, "Tom Selleck Is Writing a Memoir About His Extremely Private Life," 13 Apr. 2019 At the time, Patrick and wife Jillian Fink were struggling to balance their demanding careers (Jillian is a popular celebrity makeup artist.) with their three children: Tallula, Sullivan, and Darby. Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, "Here's the Real Reason Why Patrick Dempsey Left 'Grey's Anatomy'," 28 Mar. 2019 The gate was a custom project for one of the firm's clients—someone who clearly knows how to balance style and real life quite well. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "This Is The World's Chicest Baby Gate," 25 Mar. 2019 Kids, new jobs, and balancing it all Last spring, the two celebrated their 11th anniversary together. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'Today' Star Jenna Bush Hager and Husband Henry Chase Hager Have the Best Love Story," 1 Mar. 2019 States may cut aid to local governments during recessions, and cities still have to balance their budgets, Ms. Murphy said. Jon Kamp, WSJ, "Los Angeles and Other Cities Stash Money to Prepare for a Recession," 24 Jan. 2019

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

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about balance

Statistics for balance

Last Updated

19 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for balance

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

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).

WORD OF THE DAY

using a distributed computer network

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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