balance

1 of 2

noun

bal·​ance ˈba-lən(t)s How to pronounce balance (audio)
1
a
: 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.
2
a
: 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
3
a
: 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")
4
a
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 chapterR. 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

balance

2 of 2

verb

balanced; balancing

transitive verb

1
a
: 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
2
a(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
3
a
: 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
Phrases
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

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
But in a way, there’s a balance between the floors, the glass and the concrete. Laura May Todd, New York Times, 18 Feb. 2024 Where the rubber meets the road is finding a balance between the two and understanding which should play a stronger role in the direction of your business. Rhett Power, Forbes, 18 Feb. 2024 For those looking to get out of credit card debt, see if a balance transfer is right for you. Michelle Singletary, Washington Post, 16 Feb. 2024 Best Gourmet Pasta Sauce: Rao's Homemade Vodka Arrabbiata Sauce A pleasing balance of two classics. Katlyn Moncada, Better Homes & Gardens, 16 Feb. 2024 Companies found that employers were performing better, thanks to improved work-life balance, and there was also less absenteeism and fewer resignations. Prarthana Prakash, Fortune Europe, 15 Feb. 2024 But over the course of that season, everything came into balance, especially the more that Schumer and Cera got to play scenes together. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 15 Feb. 2024 Specifically designed for stomach sleepers, these pillows offer the perfect balance of softness and support and provide the luxurious feel of down without the allergens. Kayla Kitts, Peoplemag, 15 Feb. 2024 Staff must first and foremost be empowered to maintain a healthy work-life balance every day, not only on vacations. Molly Johnson-Jones, Fortune Europe, 5 Feb. 2024
Verb
In the script, the characters talk about that fine line between authenticity and kitsch that can only be achieved when everything is balanced just right, so that the work of art is true to the artist’s vision but simple and clear enough that an audience can easily comprehend it. Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter, 19 Feb. 2024 Many of the ancient texts that the Florentines favored spoke directly to the political tensions of a situation in which popular liberties were ever balanced against Medici control. Claudia Roth Pierpont, The New Yorker, 19 Feb. 2024 Even balancing the newborn, Nakken has participated in Zoom calls leading up to camp. Evan Webeck, The Mercury News, 17 Feb. 2024 From time to time, the men pause to stand on one leg while crossing the other in front and holding it by the shin — balancing like amputees. Gia Kourlas, New York Times, 16 Feb. 2024 Is there a way to balance the varied and competing moral considerations in play here? Trevor Hedberg, The Conversation, 15 Feb. 2024 Net zero by 2050 represents a pathway that balances the social, economic, and technological realities of decarbonization with an emissions trajectory that will hold global warming to 1.5° C above pre-industrial levels in 2100. David Carlin, Forbes, 15 Feb. 2024 Our strategy should balance aid with proactive diplomatic engagement, aiming to prevent a global conflict while prioritizing peace and sustainable solutions. Eleanor Dearman, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 15 Feb. 2024 But Williams made that call and wound up earning a lead nomination for her nuanced portrayal of a woman trying to balance her artistic impulses with being a wife and mother. Glenn Whipp, Los Angeles Times, 15 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'balance.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 6

Verb

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near balance

Cite this Entry

“Balance.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/balance. Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

balance

1 of 2 noun
bal·​ance ˈbal-ən(t)s How to pronounce balance (audio)
1
: an instrument used for measuring mass or weight
2
: a counterbalancing weight, force, or influence
3
: a vibrating wheel operating with a hairspring to regulate the mechanical motions of a timepiece
4
: a condition in which opposing forces are equal to each other
5
: equality between the totals of the two sides of an account
6
: an orderly and artistic arrangement of elements that is pleasing : harmony
7
a
: something left over : remainder
b
: the amount by which one side of an account is greater than the other
a balance of $10 on the credit side
8
: mental and emotional steadiness
9
: the maintenance (as in a natural habitat) of a population in about the same condition and numbers

balance

2 of 2 verb
balanced; balancing
1
: to figure out the difference between the debits and credits of an account
balanced her checkbook
2
a
: to arrange so that one set of elements exactly equals another
balance an equation
b
: to complete (a chemical equation) so that the same number of atoms and electric charges of each kind appears on each side
3
b
: to equal or make equal in weight, number, or proportion
balanced the powers of the three branches of government
4
: to weigh against one another : compare
5
: to bring or come to a state or position of balance
balancer noun

Medical Definition

balance

noun
bal·​ance ˈbal-ən(t)s How to pronounce balance (audio)
1
: an instrument for weighing
2
: mental and emotional steadiness
3
a
: 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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