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 outHis 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

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 McCaffrey had 133 yards and two touchdowns from scrimmage on a balance of runs and receptions. BostonGlobe.com, "Carolina boots chance at a win in New Orleans, as Saints take it at wire - The Boston Globe," 25 Nov. 2019 Emotions depended on the balance of those humors, which were influenced by age, gender, and environment, including diet, exercise, sleep, and the quality of the air. Fay Bound Alberti, Quartz, "The problem with medicalizing loneliness," 25 Nov. 2019 On balance, the vastness and curatorial inventiveness of the offerings on view at the new MoMa make the experience deeply worthwhile and exhilarating. Steven Litt, cleveland, "Don’t let crowds deter you from visiting the expanded Museum of Modern Art in New York," 24 Nov. 2019 But on balance, the performance was plenty acceptable, especially given that a number of defensive players exited with injuries. Alex Putterman, courant.com, "Postgame grades: How UConn football’s players, position units performed in a 31-24 loss to East Carolina," 24 Nov. 2019 On balance, Piñera’s four speeches were more positive than negative – a perhaps surprising finding, given what is now clear about the depth of Chile’s crisis. The Conversation, "Chile protests: President’s speeches early in crisis missed the mark, AI study reveals," 21 Nov. 2019 Start simply by lifting two kettle bells or heavy dumbbells (one in each hand) and walking or running to work on balance. Stephanie Mansour, NBC News, "What you need to know before signing up for a Tough Mudder or Spartan race," 19 Nov. 2019 Bridging the Angels’ past with the current era of heroines meant finding a balance between the franchise’s cheesy trademarks and today’s more nuanced representations of women on screen. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, "How Charlie’s Angels Benefits From the ‘Female Gaze’," 15 Nov. 2019 Focusing on the balance between celebrated artists and those just emerging, festival-goers were treated to a wide array of genres and styles promising to expand their musical palettes. Ellise Shafer, Billboard, "Belle & Sebastian, Charli XCX, The 1975 & More Shine at Pitchfork Music Festival Paris 2019," 3 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The company keeps the packages simple in order to balance supply with demand. William Thornton | Wthornton@al.com, al, "Tailgate Guys has been throwing pigskin parties for 10 years," 29 Nov. 2019 The key to a good thum is to balance the competing flavors, adjusting to personal preference, Souvannarinh explained. Priscilla Totiyapungprasert, azcentral, "From thum kao poon to turkey: How past meets present at one family's Thanksgiving table," 27 Nov. 2019 Friends say Kelsey was struggling to balance the baby, her job and a long commute. CBS News, "Patrick Frazee sentenced: Colorado mom Kelsey Berreth gets justice a year after Thanksgiving Day killing," 23 Nov. 2019 Research has shown that one of the most effective ways to increase student achievement is to balance the levels of poverty in schools. Liz Bowie, baltimoresun.com, "Howard County school board is poised to approve contentious redistricting plan. Here’s what you need to know.," 20 Nov. 2019 Since New York passed its law, Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, has been outspoken about the need to balance justice for victims with justice for the accused. USA Today, "Most priests accused of sexually abusing children were never sent to prison. Here's why," 12 Nov. 2019 Meanwhile, John Stones is nearing full fitness after his own injury layoff, as Guardiola tries to balance the busy fixture schedule his side face. SI.com, "Manchester City Handed Defensive Injury Boost Ahead of Second Successive Southampton Clash," 31 Oct. 2019 As the council addresses those looming issues, Nickerson advised the next council chair to balance the sometimes-contradictory pulls of local services, local schools and the residential tax burden. Emily Brindley, courant.com, "Farmington town council candidates focus on high school renovation, community input," 31 Oct. 2019 Effectively, dance artists are expected to balance their ambition to reach wide audiences with a counterintuitive commitment to remain underground, where they are perceived to be more artistically genuine. Zel Mccarthy, Billboard, "Batten Down the Hatches: Darude's 'Sandstorm' Just Turned 20," 30 Oct. 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

Time Traveler for balance

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for balance

Last Updated

1 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Balance.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/balance?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=b&file=balanc01. Accessed 10 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for balance

balance

noun
How to pronounce balance (audio)

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

to state or do over again or repeatedly

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Semantic Drift Quiz

  • a twisty river
  • Which of the following was once a synonym for fun?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

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!