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a state of equilibrium or equipoise; equal distribution of weight, amount, etc.
something used to produce equilibrium; counterpoise.
mental steadiness or emotional stability; habit of calm behavior, judgment, etc.
a state of bodily equilibrium:
He lost his balance and fell down the stairs.
an instrument for determining weight, typically by the equilibrium of a bar with a fulcrum at the center, from each end of which is suspended a scale or pan, one holding an object of known weight, and the other holding the object to be weighed.
the remainder or rest:
He carried what he could and left the balance for his brother to bring.
the power or ability to decide an outcome by throwing one’s strength, influence, support, or the like, to one side or the other.
(in winemaking) the degree to which all the attributes of a wine are in harmony, with none either too prominent or deficient.

equality between the totals of the two sides of an account.
the difference between the debit total and the credit total of an account.
unpaid difference represented by the excess of debits over credits.

an adjustment of accounts.
the act of balancing; comparison as to weight, amount, importance, etc.; estimate.
preponderating weight:
The balance of the blame is on your side.
Fine Arts. composition or placement of elements of design, as figures, forms, or colors, in such a manner as to produce an aesthetically pleasing or harmoniously integrated whole.
Dance. a balancing movement.
Also called balance wheel. Horology. a wheel that oscillates against the tension of a hairspring to regulate the beats of a watch or clock.
(initial capital letter) Astronomy, Astrology. the constellation or sign of Libra; Scales.
Audio. (in a stereophonic sound system) the comparative loudness of two speakers, usually set by a control (balance control) on the amplifier or receiver.
to bring to or hold in equilibrium; poise:
to balance a book on one’s head.
to arrange, adjust, or proportion the parts of symmetrically.
to be equal or proportionate to:
I’m always happy when cash on hand balances expected expenses. One side of an equation must balance the other.

to add up the two sides of (an account) and determine the difference.
to make the necessary entries in (an account) so that the sums of the two sides will be equal.
to settle by paying what remains due on an account; equalize or adjust.

to weigh in a balance.
to estimate the relative weight or importance of; compare:
to balance all the probabilities of a situation.
to serve as a counterpoise to; counterbalance; offset:
The advantages more than balance the disadvantages.
Dance. to move in rhythm to and from:
to balance one’s partner.
to have an equality or equivalence in weight, parts, etc.; be in equilibrium:
The account doesn’t balance. Do these scales balance?
Accounting. to reckon or adjust accounts.
to waver or hesitate:
He would balance and temporize endlessly before reaching a decision.
Dance. to move forward and backward or in opposite directions.
in the balance, with the outcome in doubt or suspense:
While the jury deliberated, his fate rested in the balance.
on balance, considering all aspects:
On balance, the new product is doing well.
a swaying step performed in place in which the weight is lightly shifted from one foot to the other, the dancer sinking down on the heel of the foot to which the body is shifting, with flexed knees.
Contemporary Examples

Hence the quest for ten-year balance, and the promise of pain on every front except (of course) marginal tax rates.
Say No (For Now) to the Ryan Budget 3.0 Justin Green March 12, 2013

Bush finally accepted Scowcroft’s position that he must leave Iraq united and reasonably strong to balance Iranian power.
The Sins of the First Gulf War Geoffrey Wawro January 21, 2011

Within Aleppo, the Assad regime controls the balance of power, but its public support is flagging.
Aleppo Conflict Map Shows Assad’s Control By Neighborhood David Kilcullen, Nate Rosenblatt March 9, 2014

She tells us what happens when the balance is ripped apart by the release of calcium and magnesium into the atmosphere.
Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco Chronicle Mining Catastrophes in West Virginia Chris Hedges, Joe Sacco June 13, 2012

I have a few guidelines that I try to use to help me keep things in balance.
Carrying Values Into the Corner Office Daily Beast Promotions November 15, 2010

Historical Examples

The actual decrease may be found by means of a spring balance.
Ontario Teachers’ Manuals: Nature Study Ontario Ministry of Education

I afterward sold their horse, and sent them the balance of the proceeds.
Harriet, The Moses of Her People Sarah H. Bradford

The fate of England probably lay in the balance at this moment, more than in 1588 or 1798.
Napoleon’s Letters to Josephine Henry Foljambe Hall

To make the balance even you have twenty years still to serve.’
The Grand Old Man Richard B. Cook

My friend only paid about £8 in duties, the balance of the bonded goods having to be sealed down under hatches.
Two Years Among the Savages of New Guinea. W. D. Pitcairn

a weighing device, generally consisting of a horizontal beam pivoted at its centre, from the ends of which two pans are suspended. The substance to be weighed is placed in one pan and known weights are placed in the other until the beam returns to the horizontal See also microbalance
an imagined device for assessing events, actions, motives, etc, in relation to each other (esp in the phrases weigh in the balance, hang in the balance)
a state of equilibrium
something that brings about such a state
equilibrium of the body; steadiness: to lose one’s balance
emotional stability; calmness of mind
harmony in the parts of a whole: balance in an artistic composition
the act of weighing factors, quantities, etc, against each other
the power to influence or control: he held the balance of power
something that remains or is left: let me have the balance of what you owe me

equality of debit and credit totals in an account
a difference between such totals

(chem) the state of a chemical equation in which the number, kind, electrical charges, etc, of the atoms on opposite sides are equal
a balancing movement
short for spring balance
in the balance, in an uncertain or undecided condition
on balance, after weighing up all the factors
strike a balance, to make a compromise
(transitive) to weigh in or as if in a balance
(intransitive) to be or come into equilibrium
(transitive) to bring into or hold in equilibrium
(transitive) to assess or compare the relative weight, importance, etc, of
(transitive) to act so as to equalize; be equal to
(transitive) to compose or arrange so as to create a state of harmony
(transitive) to bring (a chemical or mathematical equation) into balance
(transitive) (accounting)

to compute the credit and debit totals of (an account) in order to determine the difference
to equalize the credit and debit totals of (an account) by making certain entries
to settle or adjust (an account) by paying any money due

(intransitive) (of a business account, balance sheet, etc) to have the debit and credit totals equal
to match or counter (one’s dancing partner or his or her steps) by moving towards and away from him or her
the Balance, the constellation Libra, the seventh sign of the zodiac

early 13c., “apparatus for weighing,” from Old French balance (12c.) “balance, scales for weighing,” also in the figurative sense; from Medieval Latin bilancia, from Late Latin bilanx, from Latin (libra) bilanx “(scale) having two pans,” possibly from Latin bis “twice” + lanx “dish, plate, scale of a balance.” The accounting sense is from 1580s; the meaning “general harmony between parts” is from 1732; sense of “physical equipoise” is from 1660s. Balance of power in the geopolitical sense is from 1701. Many figurative uses are from Middle English image of the scales in the hands of personified Justice, Fortune, Fate, etc.; e.g. hang in the balance (late 14c.).

1570s, “be equal with,” from balance (n.). Meaning “bring or keep in equilibrium” is from 1630s; that of “keep oneself in equilibrium” is from 1833. Of accounts, from 1580s. Related: Balanced; balancing. Balanced meal, diet, etc. is from 1908.

balance bal·ance (bāl’əns)

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.

A state of bodily equilibrium.

The difference in magnitude between opposing forces or influences, such as for bodily parts or organs.

Equality of mass and net electric charge of reacting species on each side of a chemical equation.

To adjust a chemical equation so that the number of each type of atom and the total charge on the reactant (left-hand) side of the equation matches the number and charge on the product (right-hand) side of the equation.

occurs in Lev. 19:36 and Isa. 46:6, as the rendering of the Hebrew _kanch’_, which properly means “a reed” or “a cane,” then a rod or beam of a balance. This same word is translated “measuring reed” in Ezek. 40:3,5; 42:16-18. There is another Hebrew word, _mozena’yim_, i.e., “two poisers”, also so rendered (Dan. 5:27). The balances as represented on the most ancient Egyptian monuments resemble those now in use. A “pair of balances” is a symbol of justice and fair dealing (Job 31:6; Ps. 62:9; Prov. 11:1). The expression denotes great want and scarcity in Rev. 6:5.

In addition to the idiom beginning with


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