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

And with that, a family feud, which simmered privately for years, burst into public view, with the fate of a multibillion-dollar NFL franchise hanging in the balance. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "Inside the Fight for the Future of the Denver Broncos," 9 Dec. 2018 No deal has yet been reached, and the fate of hundreds of thousands of DREAMers hangs in the balance. Andrew Prokop, Vox, "John Kelly is out as White House chief of staff, Trump announces," 8 Dec. 2018 Red carpet hair is an eternal study in balance: too done and the look reads overwrought, but slapdash can easily skew more messy than romantic. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, "Emma Stone Has a Disney Princess Moment—And It Comes Down to This Tiny Detail," 19 Nov. 2018 Glucose serves as your body’s main source of energy, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) explains, so keeping it in the right balance is important. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "Why a ‘Sugar Hangover’ Can Feel as Terrible as the Real Thing," 27 Oct. 2018 Kavanaugh’s confirmation continues to hang in the balance as the FBI investigates the allegation, which Kavanaugh has forcefully denied. Catherine Lucey, The Seattle Times, "Trump says ‘scary time’ for young men facing false charges," 2 Oct. 2018 Well, your body has an indicator of health and system imbalance which is your temperature, 98.6 means more or less your system’s in balance. Peter Kafka, Recode, "Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey talked to NYU’s Jay Rosen for an hour, on the record. Read and listen to the full interview here.," 14 Sep. 2018 That's why counting macros can be helpful with keeping your body in balance. Colleen Stinchcombe, Redbook, "What Are Macros, Exactly?," 27 Aug. 2018 In my opinion, Amazon is preying on the work-life balance issue that the military has, and feeds off the rigid order the Army teaches. Chavie Lieber, Vox, "The human costs of Black Friday, explained by a former Amazon warehouse manager," 20 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Saudi Arabia is aiming to balance its budget by 2023. Aya Batrawy, The Seattle Times, "IMF: Mideast oil producers buoyed by higher prices, for now," 13 Nov. 2018 After his victory, Pritzker said his first step would be balancing the state budget, per the Journal Star. Dylan Scott, Vox, "Democratic wins in these 9 states will have seismic policy consequences," 9 Nov. 2018 Some provincial governments forecast that tax revenue from marijuana sales will help balance their budgets. Ian Austen, New York Times, "Legal Marijuana Is Coming to Canada. Investors Catch the Buzz.," 8 July 2018 Increasingly, says Ms Bijapurkar, a single salary is not enough to balance the bloated household budget. The Economist, "Culture and the labour market keep India’s women at home," 5 July 2018 And at public hospitals, such fees may be a way to balance government budgets. Jenny Gold, Kaiser Health News And Sarah Kliff, Washington Post, "A Baby Was Treated With A Nap And A Bottle Of Formula. The Bill Was $18,000.," 2 July 2018 Opponents, including public employee unions and cities, argued that the change would devastate communities still recovering from the economic recession by preventing them from raising new revenues to balance their budgets. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "California Bans New Local Soda Taxes Until 2031," 2 July 2018 At Cal, Chancellor Carol Christ set 2020 as a deadline to balance the athletics budget. Christopher Schnaars, USA TODAY, "Is overspending catching up to these Power 5 schools?," 28 June 2018 Opponents, including public employee unions and cities, argue that the change would devastate communities still recovering from the economic recession by preventing them from raising new revenues to balance their budgets. Alexei Koseff, sacbee, "Soda tax ban for California cities heads to Jerry Brown," 28 June 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

15 Dec 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 nest or breeding place

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