checks and balances

plural noun

Definition of checks and balances

: a system that allows each branch of a government to amend or veto acts of another branch so as to prevent any one branch from exerting too much power

Examples of checks and balances in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The system shunts the hardest-to-teach kids into schools-of-last-resort, which tend to be subject to fewer checks and balances than their public counterparts. USA Today, "Two boys with the same disability tried to get help. The rich student got it quickly. The poor student did not.," 9 Feb. 2020 With this in mind, the collective is run by 10 people who have a system of checks and balances to prevent abuses of power. Michelle Villegas Threadgould,, "What happens when your spiritual leader fails you? An SF group found out," 7 Feb. 2020 When employees cooked up schemes to launder money, violate sanctions, manipulate markets, avoid taxes or mislead customers, there were few internal checks and balances to detect or stop such behavior. New York Times, "The Money Behind Trump’s Money," 4 Feb. 2020 But validating Dershowitz’s claims would take a sledgehammer to the checks and balances at the heart of the impeachment power. Jonah Goldberg, National Review, "Dershowitz’s Dangerous Defense of Trump," 31 Jan. 2020 The second article of impeachment says Trump then obstructed the House probe in a way that threatened the nation’s three-branch system of checks and balances. Lisa Mascaro,, "Testimony coming? Abrupt acquittal? Trump trial edges on," 30 Jan. 2020 Innumerable checks and balances exist on how these leases are administered, and reasonable people can disagree on the particulars regarding the exact quantity of leases and the amount of acreage, and so on. David L. Bahnsen, National Review, "The Warren Fracking Ban: On Public Lands, and Heck, Everywhere Else," 28 Jan. 2020 Democrats led Wednesday night’s voting, framed in what many said was their duty to protect the Constitution and uphold the nation’s system of checks and balances. Author: Lisa Mascaro And Mary Clare Jalonick, Anchorage Daily News, "President Donald Trump impeached by US House on 2 charges," 19 Dec. 2019 Ideally, history and civics teachers can connect the inquiry to other lessons about presidential power, checks and balances or the Cold War. Paula Mcavoy, The Conversation, "Students should learn about impeachment in school – here’s how to make it work," 27 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'checks and balances.' 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 checks and balances

1787, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for checks and balances

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The first known use of checks and balances was in 1787

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Statistics for checks and balances

Last Updated

15 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Checks and balances.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for checks and balances

checks and balances


English Language Learners Definition of checks and balances

: a system in which the different parts of an organization (such as a government) have powers that affect and control the other parts so that no part can become too powerful

checks and balances

noun plural
checks and bal·​anc·​es | \ -ˈba-lən-səz \

Legal Definition of checks and balances

: the powers (as judicial review, the presidential veto, and the congressional override) conferred on each of the three branches of government by which each restrains the others from exerting too much power — see also separation of powers

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