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coun·​ter·​poise ˈkau̇n-tər-ˌpȯiz How to pronounce counterpoise (audio)
counterpoised; counterpoising; counterpoises


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: an equivalent power or force acting in opposition
: a state of balance

Examples of counterpoise in a Sentence

Verb her overall healthiness largely counterpoised the virulence of the infection Noun a musical piece with a counterpoise of loud and soft passages the happiness brought by a new baby was a timely counterpoise to the grief occasioned by a death in the family
Recent Examples on the Web
Indeed, the Western, that peculiarly American contribution to the world’s store of epic and saga, often depends on the tale of a defeated Confederate at large to enforce virtue, someone whose heroic individualism is counterpoised with the superficial discipline of the federal troops. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, 21 Aug. 2023 Conflicts of interest are objective situations that arise when a person’s financial interests can be counterpoised to their public responsibilities. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, 29 Nov. 2018
Molina, the embodiment of theatrical excellence, is perfectly cast as the rational counterpoise to Brady’s zealotry. Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 7 Nov. 2023 What’s most remarkable about Torruella’s film is its counterpoise between the sense of raging injustice and the island’s mystic stillness. Amada Torruella, The New Yorker, 27 Sep. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'counterpoise.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English countrepesen, from Anglo-French contrepeser, from cuntre- + peser to weigh — more at poise

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined above


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of counterpoise was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near counterpoise

Cite this Entry

“Counterpoise.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


counterpoise noun

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