bal·ance | \ˈba-lən(t)s \

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 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


balanced \ˈba-lən(t)st \ adjective

Examples of balance in a Sentence


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.


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

Brian Anderson’s athletic sliding catch and off-balance throw to first doubled off Joey Wendle in the seventh. Matthew Defranks,, "JT Riddle's big day backs Jose Ureña's return to rotation in Marlins win," 4 July 2018 Gentle Yoga This class focuses on strength, flexibility and balance. 2-3 p.m. Federation Plaza, 3081 Taft St., Hollywood. Mary Lou Cruz,, "Fort Lauderdale area events July 18-28," 13 July 2018 If anything, Kaufman argues, Wisconsin’s historical penchant for balance and moderation shows how extreme the conservative movement has become. Jennifer Szalai, New York Times, "How Conservatives Bet Big on Wisconsin and Won," 11 July 2018 Auditor Vicki Urbanik said the fund has a balance of $62,225, and the money comes from a portion of building permit fees. Amy Lavalley, Post-Tribune, "Porter County Expo Center upgrades expected to begin after county fair," 10 July 2018 The president would also validate Moscow’s concerns about the military balance between Russia and the United States, and about increasing Chinese strategic nuclear forces. Evelyn Farkas, Time, "How Trump Could Actually Make the Summit with Putin a Success," 9 July 2018 The dandan noodles had a perfect balance of spice and crumbled pork that clung to toothy noodles in a sauce infused with fresh-roasted peanut richness. Craig Laban,, "Atlantic City restaurants: New casinos, diverse independent spots create rising culinary energy," 6 July 2018 The friskiest wine in his lineup is the Paul J. Wines 2016 Amador County Zinfandel ($26), which seizes with balance and zest all the juicy raspberry and blackberry notes that the varietal is recognized for giving in the foothills. Mike Dunne, sacbee, "Shenandoah Valley’s newest winery Paul J. Wines recognizes the old," 4 July 2018 In its evaluation of 50 metropolitan areas, Indeed took other factors into account, including salary, job security and advancement, work/life balance, and the city’s labor market. Sarah Gray, Fortune, "Monster Reveals the Top 10 Jobs and Cities for Finding Work in 2018," 2 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

To meet their health-care costs, including out-of-pocket expenses, Salas’ father had to balance two jobs and work seven-day weeks. Austin Horn, San Antonio Express-News, "With ACA under attack, a family racked by illness wonders what will happen to their health coverage," 13 July 2018 On one hand, with shorter or no paid leave times, mothers in the U.S. may have to balance caring for an infant with work obligations. Eric Morath, WSJ, "Mothers in Denmark Are Less Productive at Work, Study Finds, Partially Explaining Gender-Wage Gap," 10 July 2018 In this go-round, Lang is balancing parenting and superhero duties when he’s sent on a new mission by van Dyne and Hank Pym, played by Michael Douglas. Fortune, "'Ant-Man and the Wasp' Swarms Theaters With $76 Million Opening Weekend," 8 July 2018 With Milan having to balance the books, promising goalkeeper Gigi Donnarumma may also leave the club for a Premier League side., "AC Milan Could Be Forced to Sell Manchester United Target After UEFA Make FFP Decision," 1 July 2018 And Kim Jong Un has to balance the fact that his economy is in free fall. Fox News, "Conway: Denuclearization of North Korea benefits the world," 12 June 2018 Internet personalities have long had to balance being authentic with viewers and their own safety. Megan Farokhmanesh, The Verge, "Man trespasses in Casey Neistat’s workspace in yet another example of fan transgression," 18 May 2018 Meghan will have to balance her laudable desire to use her royal status to make the world a better place, with the discretion—or neutrality, almost—that is an inescapable part of the job. Daisy Goodwin, Time, "How Meghan Markle Is Giving the Royal Family the Shake-Up It Needs," 17 May 2018 Located on a sweeping bank where the River Tay flows into the North Sea, Dundee is a curious little town that balances its post-industrial history with a buzzing design scene. Todd Plummer, Vogue, "A Guide to Dundee, Scotland—the First City Outside London to Get Its Very Own V&A Museum," 14 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


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 6


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

History and Etymology for balance


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


see balance entry 1

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Statistics for balance

Last Updated

6 Oct 2018

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



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 \

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 \

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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a generally accepted meaning of a word

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