Meaning of BALANCE in English

I. ˈbalən(t)s noun

( -s )

Etymology: Middle English, from Old French, modification of (assumed) Vulgar Latin bilancia, from Late Latin bilanc-, bilanx having two scalepans, from Latin bi- + lanc-, lanx plate, scalepan; akin to Greek lekos dish, Lithuanian uolektis ell, Old English eln ell — more at ell


a. : a device or apparatus designed especially to measure the weight of an object: as

(1) : a beam or lever supported by a fulcrum at the midpoint to form two equal arms, having a pan or tray suspended from each arm, one to hold an object of known weight and the other to hold an object to be weighed, and registering the weight of this object by the deflection of a pointer fastened to the beam and provided with a scale before which it swings

(2) : a similar device but with unequal arms, the body to be weighed being suspended from the shorter arm while a sliding counterpoise is moved along the graduated scale that forms the other arm to produce equilibrium and indicate the body's weight

(3) : a device using the elasticity of a spiral spring to measure weight (as of a body suspended from a spring) or force (as of a pull exerted upon the spring) by means of the extension produced in the coil to which is attached a pointer moving along a graduated scale — called also spring balance

(4) : a measuring apparatus in which opposing phenomena (as forces or resistances) neutralize each other — compare null method

b. obsolete : the tray or dish of a balance : scale

a pair of balances


a. : a means that judges or decides

a nomination arrived at in the balance of a free election

— often used in plural

the peoples of Africa place insistently on the world's agenda matters of still greater weight in the balances of human affairs — Alan Paton & H.R.Isaacs

b. archaic : the power to make authoritative judgments

3. : an element, influence, or part that serves as a counterbalance or counterpart especially to secure harmony, proportion, or symmetry : counterpoise

the minstrel show … was soon introduced as a balance to many heavy dramatic bills — American Guide Series: Louisiana

4. : a vibrating wheel operating in conjunction with a hairspring to regulate the movement of a timepiece


a. : stability (as of an upright body) produced by even distribution of weight on each side of the vertical axis

lose his balance and fall

b. : equipoise produced between two contrasting or opposing elements whereby one neutralizes, makes up for, or offsets the other

the benign balance in him between science and humanism — Lucien Price

the balance we strike between security and freedom — Earl Warren

c. : equality between the totals of the two sides of an account

d. : the quality or state of having weight (as of a pulley or shaft) so distributed that (1) there will be no vibration when running or that (2) the body (as a shaft or a pulley mounted on a balanced shaft) will stand in any position in which it may be placed on a pair of knifeways — called also respectively (1) dynamic balance or running balance, (2) standing balance or static balance



(1) : an aesthetically pleasing integration of elements (as in a work of art) achieved usually by giving each element only its due prominence or significance and often by allowing one element to stand in contrast to, oppose, or otherwise be matched by another element : proportion , harmony

(2) : the juxtaposition in writing of two or more syntactically parallel constructions (as phrases or clauses) containing similar, contrasting, or opposing ideas (as “to err is human; to forgive, divine”)

b. : the distribution of weight (as in an implement, device, or moving part of a mechanism) that promotes ease of handling or smoothness of performance


a. : physical equilibrium (as of an athlete) maintained before or returned to after a motion or series of motions that upsets the normal weight distribution of the body

a gymnast with a fine sense of balance

a fighter kept off balance for a whole round


(1) : a controlled state in dancing of maintaining an erect posture

(2) : a rocking shift from foot to foot especially in ballroom dancing


a. : the weight that one side, faction, or element has in excess of another or others

the balance of the evidence lay on the side of the defendant

b. : something that is left over : remainder

answers will be given in the balance of this chapter — R.W.Murray

c. : an excess or an amount in excess on either side of an account ; especially : an amount in excess on the credit side of an account

to have a comfortable balance in the bank


a. : control of emotional bias and maintenance of the power of sober judgment especially under stress : sanity , common sense

b. : normal psychological composure : equanimity

I doubt that Thoreau would be thrown off balance by the fantastic sights and sounds of the 20th century — E.B.White


a. : the relation in physiology between the intake of a particular nutrient and its excretion — used with positive when the nutrient is in excess of the bodily metabolic requirement

a positive nitrogen balance

and with negative when dietary inadequacy and withdrawal of bodily reserves is present

a negative calcium balance

b. : the maintenance (as in laboratory cultures and natural habitats) of a population in about the same condition and level

a balance of biological life or of organic groups had been set up through the ages — Science

11. : the point in the length of an object at which the moment of force on one side of the point equals that on the other

a rifle with the balance just two inches in front of the trigger guard


balance , equilibrium , equipoise , poise , and tension can denote, in common, the stability or efficiency resulting from the equalization or exact adjustment of opposing forces. balance suggests a steadiness that results when all parts are properly adjusted to each other, when no part or constituting force outweighs or is out of proportion to another

to keep her balance on an icy street

to keep his emotional balance under stress

the balance between civilian and military needs — Collier's Year Book

establish an acceptable balance between satisfactions and frustrations — Abram Kardiner

the inevitable outgrowth of the balance of character, theme, atmosphere, and structure — F.O.Baker

equilibrium , often interchangeable with balance

to keep her physical and emotional equilibrium under stress

is more often restricted to a mechanically produced or producible property deriving from a thing's construction, support, or relation to external forces, often suggesting a tendency to return to an original position after disturbance

a ship's equilibrium

an equilibrium of opposing human impulses — Sinclair Lewis

establishing an equilibrium between the Western forces and a possible aggressor — Current History

a fundamental lack of equilibrium between different aspects of the constitutional distribution of power — R.M.Dawson

equipoise suggests perfection of balance or stability of equilibrium

to maintain … equipoise among contending interests — L.H.Butterfield

the structure remains upright, a marvel of equipoise — Norman Douglas

the equipoise of intellectual and pietistic interests in him — H.O.Taylor

poise denotes an equality of opposing or different things or forces, often designating the state or appearance of perfect balance or serenity, especially of mind

the condition of a poise between widely divergent impulses and emotions that produces a strange serenity — F.R.Leavis

the main characteristic of their blond gray-eyed colleague is quiet poise that stands her in good stead in the exciting, high-pressure work — Newsweek

tension , rare in this connection, implies strain, either a pull from both ends or an outward pressure in every direction, of such equality that there results a tautness without undue strain at any point; applied to a mental condition it implies an inner balanced vital opposition of moral or intellectual forces, powers, or qualities

indolent as he was on all occasions which required tension of the mind, he was active and persevering in bodily exercise — T.B.Macaulay

the whole tension of Gide's work is characterized in those sentences: the incessant dialectic of a man who knows no peace but the precarious equilibrium of opposites — Times Literary Supplement

in letting the whole physical system lose tone, for lack of the tension which gaiety imparts — W.C.Brownell

- in the balance

- on balance

II. verb

( -ed/-ing/-s )

Etymology: probably from balance (I)

transitive verb



(1) : to compute the difference if any between the debits and credits of (an account) : arrange or prove (as an account or a book of accounts) so that the sum of the debits equals the sum of the credits

balance the books of a company

(2) : to pay the amount due on : settle

send a check to balance her account

(3) : to equalize the total debits and credits of (an account)

b. : to complete (an equation in chemistry) so that the same number of atoms of each kind appears on each side


a. : to set off : counterbalance , counterpoise

the pressures of business, labor, and farmers … manage to check and balance each other — Max Ascoli

balance one consideration against another

a large expenditure balanced only by his large income

— often used with up or out

balance up the frustrations of their lives by … escapist types of recreation — Ernest & Pearl Beaglehole

b. : to equal or equalize in weight, number, form, or proportion : arrange in balance

duties and pleasures balanced each other in his well-planned life


a. : to weigh (two things) in or as if in a balance : compare the relative weight, force, importance, or value of

balance the profit and loss to see what had been gained

b. : to deliberate upon especially by weighing opposing considerations : ponder

balancing the issues for hours on end with no decision ever reached


a. : to bring to a state or position of equipoise

balance scales by adjusting the opposing weights

b. : to poise or arrange in or as if in balance

a hat balanced precariously on his head

balance a stick on his finger

balanced a set of equations

c. : to adjust or apportion (as by even or due distribution of elements) to achieve proportion, harmony, or symmetry

regulate your activites and balance your diet

balance the national economy

specifically : to bring (a body, as a flywheel) into balance by removing portions where the weight is excessive or by adding weight to lighter sections — see balance I 5d

intransitive verb


a. : to become balanced or established in balance especially in a position difficult to maintain

balance on one hand on a diving board

sit balancing on a porch rail

an intellect that balances between foolishness and genius

b. : to stay poised in dancing in an upright position that requires unusual control

2. : to be an equal counterpoise

his periods of frenzy balanced with periods of cool meticulous deliberation

3. : fluctuate , waver , hesitate

balance and temporize on all matters that demand action

feel something like contempt for the mind that balances and waits — P.E.More


a. : to move with a swaying or swinging motion ; especially : to shift the weight lightly back and forth from foot to foot in dancing bending the body to the side on which the weight is placed

b. : to move in dancing toward a person or couple usually with four steps and then back

5. : to bid in contract bridge on the assumption that one's partner must have a strong hand because the opponents have bid weakly

Synonyms: see stabilize

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.