from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A weighing device, especially one consisting of a rigid beam horizontally suspended by a low-friction support at its center, with identical weighing pans hung at either end, one of which holds an unknown weight while the effective weight in the other is increased by known amounts until the beam is level and motionless.
  • noun A state of equilibrium or parity characterized by cancellation of all forces by equal opposing forces.
  • noun The power or means to decide.
  • noun A state of bodily equilibrium.
  • noun The ability to maintain bodily equilibrium.
  • noun A harmonious or satisfying arrangement or proportion of parts or elements, as in a design.
  • noun An influence or force tending to produce equilibrium; counterpoise.
  • noun The difference in magnitude between opposing forces or influences.
  • noun Equality of totals in the debit and credit sides of an account.
  • noun The difference between such totals, either on the credit or the debit side.
  • noun Something that is left over; a remainder.
  • noun Chemistry Equality of mass and net electric charge of reacting species on each side of an equation.
  • noun Mathematics Equality with respect to the net number of reduced symbolic quantities on each side of an equation.
  • noun A balance wheel.
  • intransitive verb To determine the weight of (something) in a weighing device.
  • intransitive verb To consider and compare or assess.
  • intransitive verb To bring into or maintain in a state of equilibrium.
  • intransitive verb To act as an equalizing weight or force to; counterbalance.
  • intransitive verb To compute the difference between the debits and credits of (an account).
  • intransitive verb To reconcile or equalize the sums of the debits and credits of (an account).
  • intransitive verb To settle (an account, for example) by paying what is owed.
  • intransitive verb To bring into or keep in equal or satisfying proportion or harmony.
  • intransitive verb Mathematics & Chemistry To bring (an equation) into balance.
  • intransitive verb To move toward and then away from (a dance partner).
  • intransitive verb To be in or come into equilibrium.
  • intransitive verb To be equal or equivalent.
  • intransitive verb To sway or waver as if losing or regaining equilibrium.
  • intransitive verb To move toward and then away from a dance partner.
  • idiom (in the balance) In an undetermined and often critical position.
  • idiom (on balance) Taking everything into consideration; all in all.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To weigh; especially, to weigh or consider in the mind; ponder over.
  • To estimate the relative weight or importance of, as two or more things; make a comparison between as to relative importance, force, value, etc.
  • To bring into a state of equipoise or equilibrium; arrange or adjust (the several parts of a thing) symmetrically: as, to balance the several parts of a machine or a painting.
  • To keep in equilibrium or equipoise; poise; steady: as, to balance a pole on one's chin.
  • To serve as a counterpoise to; counterbalance; offset: as, the ups and downs of life balance each other.
  • To bring into a state of equality; make equal; offset (one thing with another).
  • To use as a counterpoise or set-off.
  • To sway up and down, like the arms of a balance.
  • To settle by paying what remains due on an account; equalize or adjust.
  • To examine or compare by summations, etc., so as to show how assets and liabilities or debits and credits stand: as, let us balance our accounts.
  • Nautical, to steady (a ship in bad weather) by reefing with a balance-reef.
  • To have an equality or equivalence in weight, parts, etc.; be in a state of equipoise; be evenly adjusted: as, the two things exactly balance; I cannot make the account balance.
  • To oscillate like the beams of a balance; waver; hesitate.
  • In dancing, to move forward and backward, or in opposite directions, like the arms of a balance; especially, to set to a partner.
  • To be employed in finding the balance or balances of an account or accounts.
  • noun In engines, a condition in which the forces at play due to the masses of the moving mechanism are balanced by others which operate in a contrary sense, so that the engine has no tendency to lift or slide upon its foundation, but would run without jar even if not secured to such foundation.
  • noun An instrument for determining the weight of bodies as compared with an assumed unit-mass.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English balaunce, from Old French, from Vulgar Latin *bilancia, having two scale pans, from Latin bilānx : bi-, two; see dwo- in Indo-European roots + lānx, scale.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle French balance, from Late Latin *bilancia, from (accusative form of) Latin bilanx ("two-scaled"), from bi- + lanx ("plate, scale").


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