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Nautical. any heavy material carried temporarily or permanently in a vessel to provide desired draft and stability.
Aeronautics. something heavy, as bags of sand, placed in the car of a balloon for control of altitude and, less often, of attitude, or placed in an aircraft to control the position of the center of gravity.
anything that gives mental, moral, or political stability or steadiness:
the ballast of a steady income.
gravel, broken stone, slag, etc., placed between and under the ties of a railroad to give stability, provide drainage, and distribute loads.

Also called ballast resistor. a device, often a resistor, that maintains the current in a circuit at a constant value by varying its resistance in order to counteract changes in voltage.
a device that maintains the current through a fluorescent or mercury lamp at the desired constant value, sometimes also providing the necessary starting voltage and current.

to furnish with ballast:
to ballast a ship.
to give steadiness to; keep steady:
parental responsibilities that ballast a person.
in ballast, Nautical. carrying only ballast; carrying no cargo.
Historical Examples

Late in June the last rails were laid and the ballasting, such as it was, was well under way.
The Rainy Day Railroad War Holman Day

In the permanent way and ballasting, the reduction will be about one-half.
The life of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Civil Engineer Isambard Brunel

This is called a “ballasting resistance” and is usually an iron wire in a glass bulb containing hydrogen.
Artificial Light M. Luckiesh

Meanwhile, others had been ballasting the boat with boulders from the beach.
A Kut Prisoner H. C. W. Bishop

Here is a specimen that I got right here where they are ballasting the road.
The Chautauquan, Vol. III, January 1883 The Chautauquan Literary and Scientific Circle

I mean all he wants is ballasting with a little of that business spirit which we call American push.
The Silver Poppy Arthur Stringer

A large number of men were shoveling the gravel onto flat cars, to be hauled on the line of the railroad for ballasting the track.
The White Rose of Memphis William C. Falkner

One reason for deferring the masonry work as well as the ballasting was the inability to handle the necessary supplies.
The Story of the First Trans-Continental Railroad W. F. Bailey.

He has tacked that attachment notice onto a poor innocent old car filled with ballasting cinders.
Bound to Succeed Allen Chapman

Very imperfect grading and ballasting was done in the hasty building of this road.
Ten years in the ranks, U.S. army Augustus Meyers

any dense heavy material, such as lead or iron pigs, used to stabilize a vessel, esp one that is not carrying cargo
crushed rock, broken stone, etc, used for the foundation of a road or railway track
coarse aggregate of sandy gravel, used in making concrete
anything that provides stability or weight
(electronics) a device for maintaining the current in a circuit
verb (transitive)
to give stability or weight to

“heavy material used to steady a ship,” 1520s, from Middle English bar “bare” (see bare; in this case “mere”) + last “a load, burden,” or borrowed from identical terms in North Sea Germanic and Scandinavian (cf. Old Danish barlast, 14c.). “Mere” because not carried for commercial purposes. Dutch balg-last “ballast,” literally “belly-load,” is a folk-etymology corruption.


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