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

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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 Turtle Odyssey's ecological lessons revolve around the green sea turtle's importance as a keystone species, playing a crucial role in keeping coral, seagrass and fellow brine-dwellers healthy and thriving, and their communal ocean digs in balance. Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Turtle Odyssey 3D': Film Review," 3 Feb. 2020 While not the life-or-death gamble of the Model 3, when the company’s solvency hung in the balance, Tesla needs to sustain its growth. Michael J. Coren, Quartz, "Tesla’s new Cybertruck is here," 21 Nov. 2019 When Democrats start their presidential nomination voting with this state’s caucuses early next month, voters like Joe Wacha hang in the balance. John Mccormick, WSJ, "What the Biggest Swing County in Iowa Says About 2020," 22 Jan. 2020 One of the checks in this balance was to give the legislature the power to remove the any member of the executive branch, including the President, by impeachment. Martin London, Time, "John Roberts Has More Power Than Mitch McConnell Would Like You to Think. But Will He Use It?," 20 Jan. 2020 Now, McCain's career as a commentator and co-host on The View seem to hang in the balance as so many speculate her absence and possible dismissal. Mekita Rivas, refinery29.com, "All The Signs That Meghan McCain Might Be Leaving The View," 10 Jan. 2020 And the future of the treaty itself hangs in the balance: the United States is expected to formally drop out that month. Davide Castelvecchi, Scientific American, "Watch Out for These Science Events in 2020," 30 Dec. 2019 Somewhere between four and a hundred, there is a shift in balance between these two forces. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "“Loonshots” and phase transitions are the key to innovation, physicist argues," 29 Dec. 2019 All of that sweat and effort, Dye said, was to prepare for times when a game hangs in the balance. oregonlive, "Oregon linebacker Troy Dye leads the Ducks into the Rose Bowl with one hand and all of his heart," 27 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb There’s a world where those complexities might be balanced, but Twitter and Facebook are not those worlds. Steven Levy, Wired, "How to Die—and Grieve—in 2020," 31 Jan. 2020 Moving forward, what cost-cutting and/or revenue-generating strategies should be employed by the district to balance the budget and, as a school board member, what priorities would guide your decision-making process? Bob Dohr, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Eight candidates are running for a seat on the Palmyra-Eagle school board. Here are their plans for the district.," 29 Jan. 2020 Brussels has been treading a fine line between China and the United States, trying to balance and maintain both relationships despite pressure from Washington to pick sides. New York Times, "E.U. Recommends Limiting, but Not Banning, Huawei in 5G Rollout," 29 Jan. 2020 The plan In the years that followed, Omer balanced work and finding a place for her family to live. oregonlive, "Unseen Jobs: PSU night custodian works with perspective and patience," 25 Jan. 2020 Still, Topping says the environmental risks need to be balanced with the reality of needing enough crops. Ula Chrobak, Popular Science, "Pesticide testing is flawed—and it’s harming our birds and bees," 24 Jan. 2020 Second, that budgets should be balanced by gradually defunding or contracting out public services. David Graeber, The New York Review of Books, "The Center Blows Itself Up: Care and Spite in the ‘Brexit Election’," 13 Jan. 2020 The Chilean presidency was criticized for failing to balance the needs of different negotiating groups and for a process that ran perpetually behind. Jean Chemnick, Scientific American, "U.N. Climate Talks Limp to a Disappointing Close," 16 Dec. 2019 Gable’s specialty is trick-shots that include dribbling a football, balancing it on one foot, and nailing 80-yard field goals. BostonGlobe.com, "the team signed trick-shot kicker Josh Gable," 12 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

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

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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

10 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Balance.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/balances. Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

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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

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Comments on balance

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