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 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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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 For day hikes, opt for packable snacks like Clif Bars or a healthy trail mix that offers a good balance of protein, fats and carbohydrates to keep you satisfied. Lizzy Briskin,, "Best hiking backpacks 2021," 14 Apr. 2021 The balance of naturalism and otherworldliness is more complicated for the other two actors, but just as successfully achieved. Jesse Green, New York Times, "Review: A Perfect Storm of Weather and Racism in ‘shadow/land’," 13 Apr. 2021 The balance of the lease term would be based on a specified percentage of income from guest room sales, food and beverage and parking. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Proposal to build $160M dual-branded hotel on Harbor Island clears hurdle following six-year effort," 13 Apr. 2021 Public policy is about trade-offs, and federal, state and local political leaders have a responsibility to determine an optimal balance of complicated benefits and drawbacks in our decision-making. Paymon Rouhanifard, Time, "Blue States Are Failing Their Students by Not Reopening Schools. Here's How They Got It So Wrong," 12 Apr. 2021 The microphones captured a perfect balance of immediacy and room sound. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, "Chamber Music International concert looks and sounds great on streaming," 12 Apr. 2021 The bagels that come from that oven are some of the best in the city, with a balance of density and aromatic yeastiness. Mike Sutter, San Antonio Express-News, "Some of San Antonio's best bagels come from food truck Wild Barley Kitchen Co., which cooks with wood-fired oven," 9 Apr. 2021 The Miami Heat’s approach in acquiring Victor Oladipo at the March 25 NBA trading deadline, in light of his injury history, was to get a test drive the balance of the season with the impending free agent. Ira Winderman,, "All Heat eyes now on Victor Oladipo’s right knee, after guard limps off in win over Lakers," 9 Apr. 2021 The danger of fictionalizing a contentious figure lies in maintaining the delicate balance of writing a compelling character while acknowledging the truth of his real-life actions. Washington Post, "How ‘The Crown’ shaped a generation’s view of Prince Philip," 9 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Then, look at where to place the battery and how the boat will balance with the weight of a motor on the stern. Field & Stream, "Best Kayak Motor to Fit the Way You Fish," 19 Mar. 2021 Also teach children how to balance a checkbook and to do taxes. Anchorage Daily News, "Anchorage School Board candidate Q&As: Are there specific curriculum changes you would advocate? Describe them and the reason you want to see a change.," 14 Mar. 2021 Teach a flock of grackles how to balance their checkbooks. Abigail Rosenthal, Chron, "Mike Collier yelling at cows is everything I want from Texas political ads," 14 Apr. 2021 But pausing vaccinations also raises questions about how to balance side-effect risks with the urgency of the vaccine rollout. Sy Mukherjee, Fortune, "An abundance of caution with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine," 13 Apr. 2021 Visionaries often have to sacrifice a part of themselves to make their ideas come to life, and an entrepreneur needs to have a firm understanding of how to balance their personal needs as a human being. Matt Tuffuor, Rolling Stone, "Questions I Asked Myself Before Leaving My Full-Time Job in Pursuit of My Side Hustle," 12 Apr. 2021 The Warriors don’t have to decide how to balance winning games with forming their lump of coal into a diamond. Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle, "Wiseman's injury could be a sanity break for Warriors, Wiseman," 11 Apr. 2021 The question of how to balance dueling concerns — rising cases and a rare but potentially serious side effect — has split regulators and experts. Washington Post, "Europe’s vaccine divide: Science is unclear in AstraZeneca blood clot probes, but nations opt for caution," 6 Apr. 2021 Transitions across the world, transitions in life, and how humans balance that with love, opportunity, and hope. Ashley Ray-harris, Vulture, "90 Day Fiancé Season-Finale Recap: Yara and Jovi Take Center Stage," 5 Apr. 2021

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

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

Time Traveler for balance

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for balance

Last Updated

17 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Balance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Apr. 2021.

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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 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

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