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 All the more striking, then, to realize that feminist issues are what have recently thrown this most polished of leaders off balance. Helen Lewis, The Atlantic, "Scotland’s Feminist Schism," 5 May 2021 The left-hander kept the Twins off balance with a high-80s fastball, slider and fading changeup. Brian Hall, Star Tribune, "Yang makes first start in majors; Rangers beat Twins 3-1," 5 May 2021 Szush kept the Bearcats off-balance all afternoon, walking one and striking out six in the complete game effort. Bill Lumpkin Iii, al, "Parker Szush pitches 4-hitter as Chelsea beats Cullman in AHSAA Class 6A baseball," 1 May 2021 This edition of Means is able to mix in breaking balls that miss bats as well to keep hitters off-balance. Jon Meoli,, "John Means spectacular again as Orioles hang on for 3-2 win over Oakland," 1 May 2021 Cons: Shows too much off-balance movement in space. USA TODAY, "2021 NFL draft DE, OLB rankings: Top edge rusher prospects," 28 Apr. 2021 In addition, Turner’s feet have a maddening tendency to narrow, enabling adjacent blockers to knock him off balance on angle blocks. John Owning, Dallas News, "Film room: 3 small-school draft prospects the Dallas Cowboys could target next week," 21 Apr. 2021 Money is a constant concern, and an unexpected expense could knock them off balance. Emily Palmer Heller, Vulture, "Grounded For Life Deserves a Spot in the Working-Class-Sitcom Canon," 20 Apr. 2021 But as his fastball lit up the guns, and curveballs kept batters off balance, strikeouts pilled up. Shawn Mcfarland,, "East Catholic’s Frank Mozzicato, a UConn commit, dazzles in front of MLB scouts as he prepares to be next great pitcher to come out of Storrs," 19 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Employees got burned out trying to balance regular visits with drive-through testing and telemedicine. al, "24,000 health care workers in Alabama contracted COVID-19," 27 Apr. 2021 Katherine Lorenz, who chairs her grandparents’ foundation, is trying to balance action and caution. Lucy Alexander, Robb Report, "Why Mackenzie Scott’s $6 Billion Rapid-Fire Donations Could Change Charitable Giving," 17 Apr. 2021 Find out how Mexico is trying to balance its health needs vs. an economy heavily dependent on tourism by clicking here. CNN, "Travel to Mexico during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go," 16 Apr. 2021 Masui: Trying to balance disease prevention measures while allowing economic activities to continue is a high-priority issue for every country in the world right now. Billboard Japan, Billboard, "Warner Music Japan Exec & Allm Inc. CEO Talk New Solution to Bring Crowds Safely Back to Concerts," 16 Apr. 2021 The firing came as law enforcement leaders take hard looks at their officers’ affiliations in the wake of the Capitol riots, trying to balance employees’ rights against key values and the trust of the community. Washington Post, "California police fire officer who was a Proud Boy, saying they have no tolerance for ‘hate groups’," 11 Apr. 2021 Such situations could arise, for example, trying to balance work and family life during the Covid-19 lockdown, as a result of the loss of a job and income, or if a parent cannot be there for their child emotionally. Gabriel A. Silva, Forbes, "Here’s What Happens To The Brain Under Stress - From Childhood To Adulthood," 5 Apr. 2021 While her character was trying to balance two worlds, Cyrus' letter opens up about how much Hannah Montana became a part of her. Omar Sanchez,, "Miley Cyrus' heartfelt thank-you letter to Hannah Montana will have fans tearing up," 24 Mar. 2021 In the show, Cibrian's character is trying to balance a new relationship with his responsibilities as a parent, and his real-life superstar wife, LeAnn Rimes, makes a special cameo appearance. Emma Dibdin, Country Living, "LeAnn Rimes's Relationship With Husband Eddie Cibrian Sounds Like a Hallmark Movie," 21 Mar. 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

11 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Balance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 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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