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 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

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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 Once that account is paid in full, allocate the minimum payment from that account and any additional cash to your next-smallest balance. NBC News, "11 ways to get in better financial shape in 2020," 6 Jan. 2020 The motorist had difficulty maintaining his balance outside the car. cleveland, "Dinner receipt reveals alcohol consumption: Middleburg Heights Police Blotter," 3 Jan. 2020 Always lean forward slightly, bending your knees to keep your balance and avoid falling backward. Emma Austin, The Courier-Journal, "Make the most of winter after the holidays! Here's where you can ice skate in Louisville," 2 Jan. 2020 But what makes the Veldt Smartwatch special is its life-tech balance and sustainability. Kimberly Wilson, Essence, "These Gadgets Will Help You Accomplish Your New Year's Resolutions," 31 Dec. 2019 During Friday night’s matchup against crosstown rival Newton South, the Tigers followed that motto as their balance and depth paid dividends in a 70-66 win over the host Lions in the first round of the Garden City Classic., "With the win, No. 6 Newton North (3-0) advances to play No. 10 Catholic Memorial (4-0) in Saturday’s final at Newton South.," 28 Dec. 2019 Through it all, their bank balances remained robust, as a record bull market got a December kick with an easing of trade tensions between the U.S. and China, a resolution to Britain’s political stalemate and a blowout U.S. jobs report. Tom Metcalf, Fortune, "Bizarre Fortunes Flourish as World’s Richest Gain $1.2 Trillion," 27 Dec. 2019 Gerwig captures that mood with this film, a sparklingly clever new take that remixes the book’s timeline while maintaining its perfect balance of joy and sadness. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Little Women Is a Sparklingly Clever New Take on a Classic," 25 Dec. 2019 Kickstart your mileage balance by applying for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Visa credit card. Paul Rubio, Condé Nast Traveler, "5 Luxury Hotels Worth Cashing In Your Marriott Bonvoy Points For," 23 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The administration also announced plans Friday to seek $3.9 million from Southwest Airlines for failing to properly calculate the weight of planes and make sure loads were balanced before more than 21,500 flights in 2018. CBS News, "FAA plans to fine Boeing $5.4 million over faulty 737 Max parts," 10 Jan. 2020 The evening coffee came out of a Mr. Coffee pot balanced on a crate and plugged into the portable generator. Patricia Mazzei, New York Times, "The Puerto Rico Earthquake was Three Days Ago. People are Still Living Outdoors.," 9 Jan. 2020 Instead of a zesty, powdered-sugar cookie like Savannah Smiles, Lemon-Ups have a sweet glaze to perfectly balance a more tart lemon cookie. Sarah Midkiff,, "Girl Scout Season Kicks Off With A Sweet New Cookie Flavor," 7 Jan. 2020 Whales are a critical component of the ocean ecosystem, working hard to ensure that the ocean food chain is balanced. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "Why Scientists Are Counting Whales from Space," 6 Jan. 2020 An individual family might divide up its chores by agreeing on a theory of equality that balances quick, unpleasant tasks, such as bathroom-cleaning, with slower, more enjoyable ones, such as dog-walking. Joshua Rothman, The New Yorker, "The Equality Conundrum," 6 Jan. 2020 When talking to families, students worried about balancing objectivity with sympathy. Lizzie Feidelson, The New Republic, "The Kids Profiling Every Single Child Killed by Guns," 26 Dec. 2019 To scientists like Lewis and Wheeler, then, the question is whether policymakers can balance competing interests to encourage the sort of conservation and reforestation efforts that will actually do the most good in the shortest amount of time. Isabella Kaminski, Wired, "We Might Not Be Planting the Right Kinds of Forests," 25 Dec. 2019 In addition, experts will often hesitate to mess with patients who are living with such profound pain that their lives are balanced on a knife’s edge. Claudia Wallis, Scientific American, "How to Break the Bonds of Opioids," 20 Dec. 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.

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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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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

13 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Balance.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 23 January 2020.

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More Definitions for balance


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



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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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).


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

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