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

But checks and balances would almost certainly make Facebook less profitable. The Economist, "Facebook wants to create a digital currency," 18 June 2019 Republicans are supposed to provide the checks and balances against Democrats. George Skelton,, "Republicans need to change their product. Californians aren’t buying it," 17 June 2019 There is no check and balance, save, gratefully, for a judge. Joe Soucheray, Twin Cities, "Soucheray: Trash-collection ruling is a lesson for St. Paul, but city isn’t listening," 8 June 2019 Instead, Pelosi frames the investigations ahead as Congress exerting its constitutional duty to the necessary checks and balances on the executive that voters want. Lisa Mascaro, The Seattle Times, "Oversight or overreach? Democrats wrestle with Trump probes," 24 Mar. 2019 Donald Trump may scorn liberal norms, but America’s checks and balances are strong, and will outlast him. The Economist, "After decades of triumph, democracy is losing ground," 14 June 2018 As investigators comb through county contracts and emails, took a look at how the charter government, with its checks and balances, is supposed to award contracts and purchase goods. Karen Farkas,, "How does Cuyahoga County award contracts and purchase items?," 19 Mar. 2018 Western officials say systems of checks and balances in their countries allow for companies to challenge those demands, unlike in China. Josh Chin, WSJ, "U.S. Believes It Doesn’t Need to Show ‘Proof’ Huawei Is a Spy Threat," 23 Jan. 2019 National emergencies are legally defined under the 1976 National Emergencies Act (NEA), which was signed into law by President Gerald Ford to help create a system of checks and balances on the president’s emergency powers. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "Donald Trump Is Threatening to Declare a National Emergency to Get Border Wall Funding. Here's Why He Shouldn’t.," 11 Jan. 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.

See More

First Known Use of checks and balances

1787, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about checks and balances

Dictionary Entries near checks and balances




checks and balances

check sheet

check side


Statistics for checks and balances

Last Updated

21 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for checks and balances

The first known use of checks and balances was in 1787

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

More from Merriam-Webster on checks and balances Encyclopedia article about checks and balances

Comments on checks and balances

What made you want to look up checks and balances? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


showing courage and determination

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!