balance /ˈbal(ə)ns/


I. noun

1. [ mass noun] an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady

she lost her balance and fell.
[Sailing] the ability of a boat to stay on course without adjustment of the rudder.
3. [ mass noun] a situation in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions

the obligations of political balance in broadcasting
[in sing.]
try to keep a balance between work and relaxation.
4. mental or emotional stability

the way to some kind of peace and personal balance.
5. the relative volume of various sources of sound

the balance of the voices is good.
[Art] harmony of design and proportion.
7. an apparatus for weighing, especially one with a central pivot, beam, and two scales.
8. ( the Balance) the zodiacal sign or constellation Libra.
9. a counteracting weight or force.
10. (also balance wheel) the regulating device in a clock or watch.
11. [ mass noun] a predominating amount; a preponderance

the balance of opinion was that work was more important than leisure.

12. a figure representing the difference between credits and debits in an account; the amount of money held in an account

he accumulated a healthy balance with the savings bank.
13. the difference between an amount due and an amount paid

the holiday balance must be paid by 8 weeks before departure.
14. [in sing.] an amount left over.
II. verb [with obj.]

1. put (something) in a steady position so that it does not fall

a mug that she balanced on her knee.
2. [no obj.] remain in a steady position without falling

Richard balanced on the ball of one foot.
3. offset or compare the value of (one thing) with another

the cost of obtaining such information needs to be balanced against its benefits.
4. counteract or equal the effect or importance of

he balanced his radical remarks with more familiar declarations.
5. establish equal or appropriate proportions of elements in

policies that help women balance work and family life.
6. compare debits and credits in (an account) so as to ensure that they are equal

the law requires the council to balance its books each year.
7. [no obj.] (of an account) have credits and debits equal.

a surplus on the capital account to make the account balance.
III. phrases

1. balance of payments /ˌbaləns əv ˈpeɪmənts /
the difference in total value between payments into and out of a country over a period.

[as modifier]

a balance-of-payments deficit.
2. balance of power /ˌbaləns əv ˈpaʊə /
a. a situation in which states of the world have roughly equal power.
b. the power held by a small group when larger groups are of equal strength.
3. balance of trade /ˌbaləns əv ˈtreɪd /
the difference in value between a country’s imports and exports.

a country with a worsening balance of trade in manufactured products.
4. in the balance
in an uncertain or critical state

his survival hung in the balance for days.
5. on balance
when all factors are taken into consideration

on balance, he was pleased with how things had gone.
6. strike a balance
choose a moderate course.

she’s decided to strike a balance between fashionable and accessible.
IV. derivatives

balancer /ˈbalənsə /

– origin Middle English (in sense 3 of the noun): from Old French balance (noun), balancer (verb), based on late Latin (libra) bilanx ‘(balance) having two scale pans’, from bi- ‘twice, having two’ + lanx ‘scale pan’.

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