Meaning of “balance” in the English Dictionary

"balance" in British English

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uk /ˈbæl.əns/ us /ˈbæl.əns/

balance noun (EQUAL STATE)

B2 [ S or U ] a state where things are of equal weight or force:

The toddler wobbled and lost his balance (= started to fall sideways).
She had to hold onto the railings to keep her balance (= to stop herself from falling).
New tax measures are designed to redress the balance (= make the situation more equal) between rich and poor.
We must strike a balance between reckless spending and penny-pinching (= try to have something between these two things).

[ U ] The balance on a piece of electronic equipment for playing music is the particular mixture of different sounds, or the device that controls this.

on balance

B2 after thinking about all the different facts or opinions:

I would say that, on balance, it hasn't been a bad year.

More examples

  • He lost his balance and tumbled over.
  • The question threw him off balance for a moment.
  • Teachers need to strike a delicate balance between instructing their pupils and letting them discover things for themselves.
  • Most managers, politicians and bosses are men - how can women redress the balance ?
  • The shift in the balance of power in the region has had far-reaching consequences.

balance noun (MONEY)

B2 [ C usually singular ] the amount of money you have in a bank account, or the amount of something that you have left after you have spent or used up the rest:

Once we know how much money we'll need, let's spend the balance (= the amount left).
The company's success is reflected in its healthy bank balance.

[ U ] Indian English the money that is returned to someone who has paid for something that costs less than the amount that they gave

See also


uk /ˈbæl.əns/ us /ˈbæl.əns/

B2 [ I or T ] to be in a position where you will stand without falling to either side, or to put something in this position:

The flamingos balanced gracefully on one leg.
She balanced a huge pot effortlessly on her head and walked down to the river.

B2 [ T ] to give several things equal amounts of importance, time, or money so that a situation is successful:

I struggle to balance work and family commitments.

[ T ] to arrange a system that relates to money so that the amount of money spent is not more than the amount received:

Stringent measures were introduced so that the government could balance its budget/the economy.
balance the books

to make certain that the amount of money spent is not more than the amount of money received:

If the business loses any more money, we won't be able to balance the books this year.

More examples

  • Her suitcase was precariously balanced on the tiny luggage rack above her head.
  • A see-saw balances at its fulcrum.
  • The wine has just enough dryness to balance its fruitiness.
  • Discover how eating raw food helps balance your body and aids digestion.
  • At the moment the election seems balanced on a knife-edge.

(Definition of “balance” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"balance" in American English

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us /ˈbæl·əns/

balance noun (POSITION)

[ U ] the condition of someone or something in which its weight is equally divided so that it can stay in one position or be under control while moving:

He jumped off the porch and lost his balance when he landed on the grass, falling to the ground.
We’re teaching Sue how to ride a bike, but she’s still having trouble keeping her balance.
The horse jumped the fence but landed off balance and fell.

art [ U ] Balance in a work of art means that all the parts of it work together and no part is emphasized too much.

balance noun (OPPOSING FORCES)

[ U ] a situation in which two opposing forces have or are given the same power:

He works toward a balance between extremes.
As a journalist, you try to strike a balance between serious reporting and the temptation to say clever things.

balance noun (AMOUNT)

[ C usually sing ] the amount of money you have in a bank account or an amount of money owed:

a bank balance

[ C usually sing ] A balance is also the amount of something that you have left after you have spent or used up the rest:

We’ll go over your homework for the first half hour and use the balance of the class period to prepare for the exam.


us /ˈbæl·əns/

balance verb (STAY IN POSITION)

[ I/T ] to make something stay in one position by having its weight equally divided:

[ T ] He balanced the book on top of his coffee cup.

balance verb (MAKE THINGS EQUAL)

[ T ] to put opposing forces into a position in which neither controls the other:

I had to balance the children’s needs against my own.

(Definition of “balance” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"balance" in Business English

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uk /ˈbæləns/ us

[ C, usually singular ] ACCOUNTING the amount shown in a company's financial records that is the difference between the total credits and the total debits in a particular account:

This balance is then transferred to the profit and loss account.

[ C, usually singular ] FINANCE the amount of money that you still owe after you have paid a part of the total amount:

Cut your outstanding mortgage balance and your monthly repayments will also come down.

[ C ] FINANCE the amount of money that you owe on a credit card account:

He is one of millions of people who does not pay off his credit card balance every month.

[ S ] the remaining part of an amount:

We ordered 200 copies; 50 to be delivered now and the balance next month.

[ S or U ] the state where things exist in equal amounts or are of equal importance:

They are looking for a better balance between / internet security and ease of use.
You need to find a balance between the demands of work and those of your home life.


uk /ˈbæləns/ us

[ T ] ACCOUNTING to arrange a system of accounts so that the amount of money spent is no more than the amount received:

The Conservatives initially balanced the books by selling assets and cutting health and education spending.

[ I ] ACCOUNTING, BANKING if an account balances, the amounts of money on the credit and debit sides are equal:

He had made some kind of computation error and the account didn't balance.

[ T ] to spend only as much money as you have received, or planned to spend:

The President is unlikely to balance the budget in this term of office, but he does hope to lower the deficit.

[ I or T ] also balance (sth) out to be equal in amount or value, or to make things equal in amount or value:

They hoped that this month's good sales would balance out the poor sales in the previous month.

[ T ] to give two or more things equal amounts of importance, time, or money so that a situation is successful:

I struggle to balance work and family commitments.
a balancing act

a situation in which a person tries to give equal amounts of importance to two or more things so that a situation is successful:

Outsourcing decisions are essentially a balancing act between the benefits of markets, lower production costs, and higher transaction costs.

(Definition of “balance” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)