bal·​ance | \ ˈba-lən(t)s How to pronounce balance (audio) \

Essential Meaning of balance

1 : the state of having your weight spread equally so that you do not fall He held on to the rail for balance. = He held on to the rail to keep/maintain his balance. She had trouble keeping her balance as the boat rocked back and forth. See More ExamplesThe skater suddenly lost his balance and fell. Another skater bumped into him and knocked/threw him off balance.Hide
2 : the ability to move or to remain in a position without losing control or falling Gymnasts need flexibility and balance. She has a good sense of balance.
3 : a state in which different things occur in equal or proper amounts or have an equal or proper amount of importance Temperature changes could upset the delicate balance of life in the forest. To lose weight you need the proper/right balance of diet and exercise. See More ExamplesThe food had a perfect balance of sweet and spicy flavors. He needs to achieve/create/strike a better balance between his work life and his family life. [=he needs to spend less time at work and more time with his family] To provide balance in her news story, she interviewed members of both political parties. He's trying to keep his work life and his family life in balance. = He's trying to keep his work life in balance with his family life. [=he's trying to give a proper of amount of time and attention to both his work life and his family life] It's important to keep your life in balance. His work life and his family life are out of balance. = His work life is out of balance with his family life. If these ingredients are out of balance [=not used in good or correct amounts], the dish will not taste good. The death of his wife threw/sent his life out of balance.Hide

Full Definition of balance

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : physical equilibrium trouble keeping your balance on a sailboat lost his balance and fell a boxer kept off balance for a whole round
b : the ability to retain one's balance Gymnasts must have a good sense of balance.
2a : stability produced by even distribution of weight on each side of the vertical axis when the two sides of the scale are in balance tipped the statue off balance
b : equipoise between contrasting, opposing, or interacting elements … the balance we strike between security and freedom.— Earl Warren Both parties were interviewed to provide balance in the report. the right balance of diet and exercise
c accounting : equality between the totals of the two sides of an account
3a : an aesthetically pleasing integration of elements achieving balance in a work of art
b grammar : the juxtaposition in writing of syntactically parallel (see parallel entry 1 sense 3c) constructions containing similar or contrasting ideas (such as "to err is human; to forgive, divine")
4a accounting : an amount in excess especially on the credit side of an account has a comfortable balance in the bank You must maintain a minimum balance of $1000 in your account to avoid fees.
b : weight or force of one side in excess of another The balance of the evidence lay on the side of the defendant.
c : something left over : remainder answers will be given in the balance of this chapter— R. W. Murray
5 : mental and emotional steadiness I doubt that Thoreau would be thrown off balance by the fantastic sights and sounds of the 20th century.— E. B. White
6 : an instrument for weighing: such as
a : a beam that is supported freely in the center and has two pans of equal weight suspended from its ends
b : a device that uses the elasticity of a spiral spring for measuring weight or force
7 : a means of judging or deciding the balance of a free election
8 : a counterbalancing weight, force, or influence The comedic character serves as a balance to the serious subject matter of the play.
9 : an oscillating wheel operating with a hairspring to regulate the movement of a timepiece a watch's balance
in the balance or in balance
: with the fate or outcome about to be determined our future hangs in the balance as we await his decision
on balance
: with all things considered the meeting went well on balance


balanced; balancing

Definition of balance (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to poise or arrange in or as if in balance balancing a book on her head The legislature hasn't balanced the budget in years.
b : to bring into harmony or proportion I struggled to balance my career and family life. a balanced diet
c : to bring to a state or position of balance (see balance entry 1 sense 2) balanced the scales by adding a little more on one side
2a(1) accounting : to compute the difference between the debits and credits of (an account) balancing a company's books
(2) : to pay the amount due on : settle sent a check to balance her account
b(1) : to arrange so that one set of elements exactly equals another balance a mathematical equation
(2) chemistry : to complete (a chemical equation) so that the same number of atoms and electric charges of each kind appears on each side
3a : counterbalance, offset He served black coffee to help balance out the sweetness of the dessert. balance one consideration against another
b : to equal or equalize in weight, number, or proportion The good times balanced the bad times.
4 : to weigh in or as if in a balance (see balance entry 1 sense 6) balance the profit and loss to see what had been gained

intransitive verb

1 : to become balanced or established in balance Try balancing on one foot. The good times and bad times balanced out.
2 : to be an equal counterbalance often used with out His speed will likely balance out his competitor's greater strength.The discount and the shipping charge balance each other out.
3 : waver sense 1 balances and temporizes on matters that demand action

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Examples of balance in a Sentence

Noun She had trouble keeping her balance as the boat rocked back and forth. The skater suddenly lost his balance and fell. Another skater bumped into him and knocked him off balance. Gymnasts need flexibility and balance. She has a good sense of balance. To provide balance in her news story, she interviewed members of both political parties. Temperature changes could upset the delicate balance of life in the forest. To lose weight you need the proper balance of diet and exercise. The food had a perfect balance of sweet and spicy flavors. It's important to keep your life in balance. Verb I find it difficult to balance on one foot. He had trouble balancing on his skis. He helped his daughter balance on her bicycle before she started peddling. The legislature is still trying to balance the state's budget. He balances his checkbook every month. Something's wrong: the books don't balance.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Enterprise workers would also switch jobs for better work-life balance (66%), control over their schedule (61%) and the option to work remotely (54%). Bryan Robinson, Forbes, 10 Oct. 2021 But the episode underscored how Evergrande’s financial liabilities stretched far beyond the bonds and bank loans on its balance sheets. Brian Spegele, WSJ, 8 Oct. 2021 But as an influential CFO just signaled, the new rampage won't sway corporate America to park the world's leading cryptocurrency on their balance sheets, the outcome hordes of its fans are predicting. Shawn Tully, Fortune, 7 Oct. 2021 State and local leaders across the country were eager to receive billions of dollars in federal COVID-19 relief funds to fortify their balance sheets and revive their communities. Karen Kaplan Science And Medicine Editor, Los Angeles Times, 5 Oct. 2021 Striving for balance with COVID-19 policies has whipsawed Republican Gov. Mark Gordon at times. Mead Gruver, Anchorage Daily News, 29 Sep. 2021 The crew affectionately calls the eye-catching contraption the Frog—a vast black and yellow rectangular steel container supported on rubber wheels with two froglike legs, for balance, on each side. Klara Glowczewska, Town & Country, 28 Sep. 2021 Meanwhile, the real action is unfolding behind the scenes over the $3.5 trillion measure, with Biden and his Democratic allies in Congress seeking a once-in-a-generation reworking of the nation’s balance sheets. Lisa Mascaro,, 28 Sep. 2021 Walk, bend, reach, stoop, stretch, lift, push, pull, stand, sit and do other movements for good balance and to strengthen all muscle groups. Keep it simple. oregonlive, 8 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb To optimize the customer journey, brands should balance automation with logical controls based on strong business strategy. Mark Smith, Forbes, 8 Oct. 2021 Various types of apples balance the acidity and sweetness, creating the ultimate comfort food. Amy Taylor, Good Housekeeping, 8 Oct. 2021 And how should companies balance teens' privacy while giving parents visibility into their activity? Matthew Brown, USA TODAY, 7 Oct. 2021 In the preseason, Carlisle must balance two things: Playing starters together to build cohesiveness and allowing minutes for players vying to make the team. David Woods, The Indianapolis Star, 5 Oct. 2021 That quarterback’s hard to bring down now and Treven gathered himself well, came to balance, got a little chunk of that jersey and was able to pull him down to secure the sack. James Crepea | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, 25 Sep. 2021 Another important area to balance was how much of the events in New York to show, versus what was happening in Washington, D.C. or on the ground in Pennsylvania. Danielle Turchiano, Variety, 27 Aug. 2021 Any changes to Part B reimbursement must balance policy concerns about financial incentives while also preserving — and expanding — access to novel, transformative treatments like CAR-T in the outpatient setting. Sophie Snyder, STAT, 25 Sep. 2021 Well, that brings us to the most important veto competition of the season, and the players must balance on a beam and transfer bouncy balls with numbers on them to a receptacle on the other side. Kyle Fowle,, 23 Sep. 2021

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


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 6


1588, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2a(1)

History and Etymology for balance

Noun and Verb

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Vulgar Latin *bilancia, from Late Latin bilanc-, bilanx having two scalepans, from Latin bi- + lanc-, lanx plate

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Time Traveler for balance

Time Traveler

The first known use of balance was in the 13th century

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Dictionary Entries Near balance



balance a/the budget

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Statistics for balance

Last Updated

14 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Balance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for balance


bal·​ance | \ ˈba-ləns How to pronounce balance (audio) \

Kids Definition of balance

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a steady position or condition The gymnast kept her balance.
2 : something left over : remainder He spent the balance of his allowance.
3 : an instrument for weighing
4 : a state in which things occur in equal or proper amounts a balance of work and fun
5 : the amount of money in a bank account
6 : an amount of money still owed


balanced; balancing

Kids Definition of balance (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to make or keep steady : keep from falling … their slippery … forefeet did not allow them to balance there.— Dick King-Smith, Pigs Might Fly
2 : to make the two sides of (an account) add up to the same total
3 : to be or make equal in weight, number, or amount You must balance your schoolwork and outside activities.


bal·​ance | \ ˈbal-ən(t)s How to pronounce balance (audio) \

Medical Definition of balance

1 : an instrument for weighing
2 : mental and emotional steadiness
3a : the relation in physiology between the intake of a particular substance and its excretion used with positive when the intake of a substance is greater than the body's excretion of it and with negative when the intake of a substance is less than the body's excretion of it — see nitrogen balance, water balance
b : the maintenance (as in laboratory cultures) of a population at about the same condition and level

More from Merriam-Webster on balance

Nglish: Translation of balance for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of balance for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about balance


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