use-icon

HOW TO USE THE DICTIONARY

Learn what the dictionary tells you about words.

Get Started Now!

Some compound words (like bus rapid transit, dog whistle, or identity theft) don’t appear on the drop-down list when you enter them into the search window. If a compound term doesn’t appear in the drop-down list, try entering the term into the search window and then hit the search button (instead of the “enter” key). Alternatively, begin searches for compound terms with a quotation mark.

use-icon

THE USAGE PANEL

The Usage Panel is a group of nearly 200 prominent scholars, creative writers, journalists, diplomats, and others in occupations requiring mastery of language. The Panelists are surveyed annually to gauge the acceptability of particular usages and grammatical constructions.

The Panelists

puzzle-icon

NEED HELP SOLVING A CROSSWORD PUZZLE?

Go to our Crossword Puzzle Solver and type in the letters that you know, and the Solver will produce a list of possible solutions.

open-icon

INTERESTED IN DICTIONARIES?

Check out the Dictionary Society of North America at http://www.dictionarysociety.com

open-icon

AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY APP

The new American Heritage Dictionary app is now available for iOS and Android.

scroll-icon

INDO-EUROPEAN & SEMITIC ROOTS APPENDICES

Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

Indo-European Roots

Semitic Roots

The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

open-icon

OPEN DICTIONARY PROJECT

Share your ideas for new words and new meanings of old words!

Start Sharing Now!

100-words-icon

See word lists from the best-selling 100 Words Series!

Find out more!

Bal·ance (băləns)
Share:
n.
See Libra.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
bal·ance (băləns)
Share:
n.
1. 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. Also called scale.
2. A state of equilibrium or parity characterized by cancellation of all forces by equal opposing forces.
3. The power or means to decide: matters that fell outside the judge's balance.
4.
a. A state of bodily equilibrium: thrown off balance by a gust of wind.
b. The ability to maintain bodily equilibrium: Gymnasts must have good balance.
5. A harmonious or satisfying arrangement or proportion of parts or elements, as in a design.
6. An influence or force tending to produce equilibrium; counterpoise.
7. The difference in magnitude between opposing forces or influences.
8. Accounting
a. Equality of totals in the debit and credit sides of an account.
b. The difference between such totals, either on the credit or the debit side.
9. Something that is left over; a remainder.
10. Chemistry Equality of mass and net electric charge of reacting species on each side of an equation.
11. Mathematics Equality with respect to the net number of reduced symbolic quantities on each side of an equation.
12. A balance wheel.
v. bal·anced, bal·anc·ing, bal·anc·es
v.tr.
1. To determine the weight of (something) in a weighing device.
2. To consider and compare or assess: balanced the pros and cons before making a choice.
3. To bring into or maintain in a state of equilibrium.
4. To act as an equalizing weight or force to; counterbalance.
5. Accounting
a. To compute the difference between the debits and credits of (an account).
b. To reconcile or equalize the sums of the debits and credits of (an account).
c. To settle (an account, for example) by paying what is owed.
6. To bring into or keep in equal or satisfying proportion or harmony.
7. Mathematics & Chemistry To bring (an equation) into balance.
8. To move toward and then away from (a dance partner).
v.intr.
1. To be in or come into equilibrium.
2. To be equal or equivalent.
3. To sway or waver as if losing or regaining equilibrium.
4. To move toward and then away from a dance partner.
Idioms:
in the balance
In an undetermined and often critical position: Our plans were left hanging in the balance. Resolution of that item is still in the balance.
on balance
Taking everything into consideration; all in all.

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

balance·a·ble adj.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

This website is best viewed in Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Safari. Some characters in pronunciations and etymologies cannot be displayed properly in Internet Explorer.