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 Cory Kampf, finance division manager, said the county is carrying over a robust system of checks and balances by having a team review applicants and utilizing guidelines first established with independent vendors. Kim Hyatt, Star Tribune, "Minnesota counties pay hundreds of thousands to third parties to administer COVID relief grants," 21 Jan. 2021 In the end, the American system of checks and balances held, and the American people rejected Mr. Trump’s bid for a second term in office. Francis Fukuyama, WSJ, "Francis Fukuyama on the State of Democracy in 2020 and Beyond," 15 Dec. 2020 This spending should, in Friedman’s view, be done either by the stockholders, employees, and customers on their own, or by a government operating under constitutional checks and balances. Ramesh Ponnuru, National Review, "Not (Necessarily) for Profit Alone," 20 Aug. 2020 Fuentes also opposed the Constitution’s checks and balances, which had enabled Biden to prevail. Luke Mogelson, The New Yorker, "Among the Insurrectionists," 15 Jan. 2021 The solution was not just checks and balances in governing institutions, and a national Bill of Rights, but also indirect elections for president through the Electoral College. James Freeman, WSJ, "Obama Wins Another Round Against Community Organizers," 18 Dec. 2020 Monzel said Ohio lawmakers should have more checks and balances on DeWine's administration's ability to issue far-reaching health orders. Jessie Balmert, The Enquirer, "Election 2020: In this suburban Hamilton County race, it doesn't pay to be extreme," 5 Oct. 2020 The founders implemented several measures to try to achieve them: checks and balances between branches of government, power divided between the federal government and states, a Bill of Rights and the Electoral College. Star Tribune, "Readers Write: Election process, Electoral College, polarization," 5 Nov. 2020 At this point, the key is to be clear about your checks and balances. Cate Huston, Quartz at Work, "You can fix your hiring process: Here’s your five-step plan," 24 Nov. 2020

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of checks and balances was in 1787

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Statistics for checks and balances

Last Updated

21 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Checks and balances.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.

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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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