Definitions

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

  • noun Heavy material that is placed in the hold of a ship or the gondola of a balloon to enhance stability.
  • noun Coarse gravel or crushed rock laid to form a bed for roads or railroads.
  • noun The gravel ingredient of concrete.
  • noun Something that gives stability, especially in character.
  • transitive verb To stabilize or provide with ballast.
  • transitive verb To fill (a railroad bed) with or as if with ballast.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Ballasted.
  • To place ballast in or on; furnish with ballast: as, to ballast a ship; to ballast a balloon; to ballast the bed of a railroad. See the noun.
  • Figuratively: To give steadiness to; keep steady.
  • To serve as a counterpoise to; keep down by counteraction.
  • To load; freight.
  • To load or weigh down.
  • noun Weight carried by a ship or boat for the purpose of insuring the proper stability, both to avoid risk of capsizing and to secure the greatest effectiveness of the propelling power.
  • noun Bags of sand placed in the car of a balloon to steady it and to enable the aëronaut to lighten the balloon, when necessary to effect a rise, by throwing part of the sand out.
  • noun Gravel, broken stones, slag, or similar material (usually called road-metal), placed between the sleepers or ties of a railroad, to prevent them from shifting, and generally to give solidity to the road.
  • noun Figuratively, that which gives stability or steadiness, mental, moral, or political.
  • noun The rough masonry of the interior of a wall, or that laid upon the vault; masonry used where weight and solidity are needed. Compare filling, 7, and back-filling.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Naut.) Any heavy substance, as stone, iron, etc., put into the hold to sink a vessel in the water to such a depth as to prevent capsizing.
  • noun Any heavy matter put into the car of a balloon to give it steadiness.
  • noun Gravel, broken stone, etc., laid in the bed of a railroad to make it firm and solid.
  • noun The larger solids, as broken stone or gravel, used in making concrete.
  • noun Fig.: That which gives, or helps to maintain, uprightness, steadiness, and security.
  • noun a steam engine used in excavating and for digging and raising stones and gravel for ballast.
  • noun a ship carrying only ballast.
  • transitive verb To steady, as a vessel, by putting heavy substances in the hold.
  • transitive verb To fill in, as the bed of a railroad, with gravel, stone, etc., in order to make it firm and solid.
  • transitive verb To keep steady; to steady, morally.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun nautical Heavy material that is placed in the hold of a ship (or in the gondola of a balloon), to provide stability.
  • noun figuratively Anything that steadies emotion or the mind.
  • noun Coarse gravel or similar material laid to form a bed for roads or railroads.
  • noun construction A material, such as aggregate or precast concrete pavers, which employs its mass and the force of gravity to hold single-ply roof membranes in place.
  • noun countable, electronics device used for stabilizing current in an electric circuit (e.g.in a tube lamp supply circuit)
  • verb To stabilize or load a ship with ballast.
  • verb To lay ballast on the bed of a railroad track.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun any heavy material used to stabilize a ship or airship
  • noun an attribute that tends to give stability in character and morals; something that steadies the mind or feelings
  • noun a resistor inserted into a circuit to compensate for changes (as those arising from temperature fluctuations)
  • noun an electrical device for starting and regulating fluorescent and discharge lamps
  • verb make steady with a ballast
  • noun coarse gravel laid to form a bed for streets and railroads

Etymologies

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

[Perhaps from Old Swedish or Old Danish barlast : bar, mere, bare; see bhoso- in Indo-European roots + last, load.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle Low German, from Old Norse  (bar, "bare") +  (last, "load")

Examples

  • Id recommend having two bottles on hand for four people at a dinner party, then having a decent third wine in reserve, what I call ballast.

    A Year of Wine

  • Id recommend having two bottles on hand for four people at a dinner party, then having a decent third wine in reserve, what I call ballast.

    A Year of Wine

  • Truth be told, I could make a better public case for Ayers’s involvement by a discussion of the word ballast than I could by sharing these results.

    Deconstructing Obama

  • Truth be told, I could make a better public case for Ayers’s involvement by a discussion of the word ballast than I could by sharing these results.

    Deconstructing Obama

  • From the Marquesas I sailed with sufficient absinthe in ballast to last me to Tahiti, where I outfitted with Scotch and American whisky, and thereafter there were no dry stretches between ports.

    Chapter 32

  • When this happens, ETFs can provide some short-term ballast for rebalancing, such as moving cash or selling one investment to move back toward another.

    Buying ETFs Like a Pro

  • Actually, in one definition, ballast is material which will:

    Is That Legal?: "Blow All Ballast Tanks . . . Dive, Dive"

  • Update: A commenter quotes one of the definitions for ballast from the Oxford English Dictionary as: 3.

    Is That Legal?: May 2007 Archives

  • Update: A commenter quotes one of the definitions for ballast from the Oxford English Dictionary as: 3.

    Is That Legal?: Congenital Liar

  • On this occasion as usual we came to the surface and we were lying there trimmed down (the main ballast roughly two-thirds full), just floating, when the signalman who was up on the bridge with me remembered he had not brought up any cigarettes.

    A Glimpse Into A Submarine

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.