Meaning of BALANCE in English

I. bal ‧ ance 1 S2 W2 /ˈbæləns/ BrE AmE noun

[ Date: 1200-1300 ; Language: Old French ; Origin: Vulgar Latin bilancia , from Late Latin bilanx 'having two pans' , from Latin lanx 'plate' ]

1 . STEADY [uncountable] a state in which all your weight is evenly spread so that you do not fall:

I lost my balance and fell on my face.

2 . EQUAL AMOUNTS [singular, uncountable] a state in which opposite forces or influences exist in equal or the correct amounts, in a way that is good OPP imbalance

balance between

Try to keep a balance between work and play.

balance of

Pesticides seriously upset the balance of nature.

3 . on balance if you think something on balance, you think it after considering all the facts:

I think on balance I prefer the old system.

4 . SURPRISE SOMEBODY catch/throw somebody off balance to surprise someone and make them confused and no longer calm:

The question caught him off balance.

5 . BANK [countable] the amount of money that you have in your bank account:

My bank balance isn’t good.

6 . MONEY OWED [countable] the balance of a debt is the amount of money that you still owe after you have paid some of it:

The balance is due at the end of the month.

7 . REMAINING the balance the amount of something that remains after some has been used, spent, mentioned etc SYN the rest :

The firm owns about 96% of the portfolio, with the balance belonging to our family.

8 . be/hang in the balance if the future or success of something hangs in the balance, you cannot yet know whether the result will be bad or good:

Meanwhile, the fate of the refugees continues to hang in the balance.

9 . tip/swing the balance to influence the result of an event:

The dignity and courage shown by the President may tip the balance in his party’s favour.

10 . FOR WEIGHING [countable] an instrument for weighing things, with two dishes that hang from a bar SYN scales

11 . MENTAL/EMOTIONAL HEALTH [singular] when someone’s mind is healthy and their emotional state is normal:

The death of her friend had disturbed the balance of her mind.

12 . the balance of evidence/probability etc the most likely answer or result produced by opposing information, reasons etc

⇨ checks and balances at ↑ check 2 (4)

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 1)

■ verbs

▪ keep your balance (=stay steady)

The sea was so rough that it was hard to keep your balance.

▪ lose your balance (=become unsteady)

She nearly lost her balance as the bus suddenly moved forward.

▪ regain/recover your balance (=become steady again)

He held onto Carrie until he regained his balance.

▪ knock/throw somebody off balance

The blow was hard enough to knock him off balance.

■ phrases

▪ a sense of balance

A good sense of balance is always useful when you are sailing.

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 2)

■ verbs

▪ strike/achieve/find a balance (=succeed in getting the right balance)

It is necessary to strike a balance between the needs of employers and employees.


Find the right balance between enough exercise and enough rest.

▪ keep/maintain a balance

Try to keep a balance between your spending and your earnings.


A firm must strive to maintain a balance between business and financial risk.

▪ upset the balance (=make it less equal or correct)

The move could upset the delicate balance of power in the Middle East.

▪ change/alter/shift the balance

Will this alter the balance of power in the EU?


His appointment shifted the government’s balance decisively to the right.

▪ redress the balance ( also restore the balance British English ) (=make it equal or correct again)

What can be done to redress the balance in favour of women?

■ adjectives

▪ a good/healthy balance

You should eat a good balance of carbohydrates and protein.


Are you eating a healthy balance of foods?

▪ a fine balance (=hard to achieve)

Teachers need to strike a fine balance of flexibility and control.

▪ a delicate balance (=easily damaged)

Too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere upsets the delicate balance of gases.

▪ the right/proper/correct balance

With sport, you have to find the right balance between competition and fun.

▪ the natural balance

Chemicals will upset the natural balance of the pond.

▪ the ecological balance

Human activity is ruining the ecological balance of our planet.

▪ the political/military balance

By this time, the political balance in the Cabinet had altered.

■ phrases

▪ the balance of power

the European balance of power

▪ the balance of nature

Nothing can justify permanent damage to the balance of nature.

II. balance 2 S3 BrE AmE verb

1 . [intransitive and transitive] to be in or get into a steady position, without falling to one side or the other, or to put something into this position

balance something on something

She was balancing a plate of food on her knees.

balance on

He turned around, balancing awkwardly on one foot.

2 . [intransitive and transitive] to be equal in importance, amount, value, or effect to something that has the opposite effect:

Job losses in manufacturing were balanced by job increases in the service sector.

just enough sugar to balance the acidity of the fruit

3 . [transitive] to consider the importance of one thing in relation to something else when you are making a decision

balance something against something

The courts must balance our liberty against the security of the nation.

4 . balance the budget if a government balances the budget, they make the amount of money that they spend equal to the amount of money available

5 . balance the books to show that the amount of money a business has received is equal to the amount spent

balance out phrasal verb

if two or more things balance out, the final result is that they are equal in amount, importance, or effect:

Sometimes I look after the kids and sometimes John does – it all balances out.

⇨ ↑ balancing act

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.