coun·​ter·​bal·​ance | \ ˈkau̇n-tər-ˌba-lən(t)s How to pronounce counterbalance (audio) , ˌkau̇n-tər-ˈba-\

Definition of counterbalance

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a weight that balances another
2 : a force or influence that offsets or checks an opposing force


coun·​ter·​bal·​ance | \ ˌkau̇n-tər-ˈba-lən(t)s How to pronounce counterbalance (audio) , ˈkau̇n-tər-ˌba-\
counterbalanced; counterbalancing; counterbalances

Definition of counterbalance (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to oppose or balance with an equal weight or force
2 : to equip with counterbalances

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Examples of counterbalance in a Sentence


charitable giving is usually a good counterbalance to the self-indulgent commercialism of the Christmas season


The author's wry humor counterbalances the book's serious subject matter. a hearty dinner might counterbalance missing lunch
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Across Verona, a coalition of civic groups gathered as a counterbalance to the World Congress for Families. Colleen Barry, The Seattle Times, "Conservative congress on family sharply divides Italy," 31 Mar. 2019 Currently, the commission is effectively a technical counterbalance to the state firm to guarantee that Mexico maximizes its resources and that Pemex makes decisions based on technical grounds. Juan Montes, WSJ, "Mexico’s López Obrador to Halt Oil Auctions for Two Years," 22 Aug. 2018 That's important because China is the North's biggest economic partner and is an important political counterbalance to the United States. Fox News, "Korean leaders meet in Pyongyang for potentially tough talks," 18 Sep. 2018 It was designed to be kind of a counterbalance to the Heritage Foundation, which is the big conservative think tank, still is, and just moved over there without any kind of portfolio or job description. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Republican fury about ‘bias’ on the internet is just a distraction, ThinkProgress founder Judd Legum says," 30 Aug. 2018 Opponents of Abe's policies have grabbed onto the emperor's statements as a counterbalance to the prime minister's push to revise Japan's war-renouncing constitution and build up its military. Fox News, "Japanese emperor tries to make amends for his father's war," 15 Aug. 2018 Rising buybacks this year have been a crucial counterbalance to the rising tide of stock-fund redemptions. Akane Otani, WSJ, "Record Buybacks Help Steady Wobbly Market," 10 May 2018 Yet in other ways, Turnbull is a counterbalance to Trump. Philip Rucker, Washington Post, "How Trump made up with Australia’s prime minister after a ‘most unpleasant call’," 22 Feb. 2018 Chinese leaders continue to see Russia as a vital counterbalance to the U.S. in Asia and elsewhere, analysts say, especially after the U.S. national security strategy labeled them as America’s top adversaries. Josh Chin, WSJ, "Russia and China Show Off Ties With Putin Visit," 8 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Such a candidate could counterbalance the large white majorities Republicans typically run up in small towns and rural areas, especially in the Panhandle. William A. Galston, WSJ, "Will Florida Take a Left Turn?," 11 Sep. 2018 This establishes a somewhat fanciful tone, which helps counterbalance the logic problems. Daryl H. Miller,, "Wearing a 'Red Speedo,' Lucas Hnath goes swimming with sharks," 18 May 2018 Help lower blood pressure: The potassium, calcium, and magnesium in kale and other veggies help counterbalance the effects of sodium that can lead to hypertension. Jaclyn London, Ms, Rd, Cdn, Good Housekeeping, "Kale Is Actually One of the Healthiest Things You Can Eat," 17 Dec. 2018 By today, those reserves have decreased by the equivalent of about $1 trillion, which the PBOC has counterbalanced with about $1.2 trillion of domestic credit. John Greenwood, WSJ, "How China Copes With Capital Flight," 19 Nov. 2018 Recent economic data has generally been strong in the U.S., counterbalancing the downward pressure on yields created by a more worrisome outlook abroad. Sam Goldfarb, WSJ, "U.S. Government Bonds Slip as Risk -Appetite Returns," 16 Aug. 2018 And the rise of liberal progressive activism among mainline Protestants may represent a spiritually robust counterbalancing force to the increasingly right-wing nature of evangelical Christianity. Tara Isabella Burton, Vox, "Why this shrinking religious group might be among America’s last “swing voters”," 5 Nov. 2018 In midstride, with the mouth on the 4-foot-long skull gaping to show its spiky teeth, and its counterbalancing tail stretched out behind, Lot 49135 stood 8 feet tall and 24 feet long. Richard Conniff, WSJ, "‘The Dinosaur Artist’ Review: Old Bones Are Big Business," 6 Sep. 2018 Historically, Americans understood the need to counterbalance this increasing diversity with policies aimed at maintaining a common inheritance rooted in the Anglo-Protestant culture of the founding era. Yoram Hazony, WSJ, "The Liberty of Nations," 24 Aug. 2018

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


circa 1611, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1611, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for counterbalance

Last Updated

23 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for counterbalance

The first known use of counterbalance was circa 1611

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More Definitions for counterbalance



English Language Learners Definition of counterbalance

formal : to have an effect that is opposite but equal to (something) : to balance (something) by being opposite

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Comments on counterbalance

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


a sum of money that is sent as a payment

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