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counter- +‎ balance.



counterbalance (plural counterbalances)

  1. (literally) A weight that is put in opposition to an equal weight so it keeps that in balance.
  2. (figuratively) A force or influence that balances, checks or limits an opposite one.




counterbalance (third-person singular simple present counterbalances, present participle counterbalancing, simple past and past participle counterbalanced)

  1. (transitive) To apply weight in order to balance an opposing weight.
    Synonyms: counterpoise, equiponderate, counterweight
    Antonym: outweigh
    Hypernym: offset
    Big brother counterbalances his two siblings to the pound.
    • 1659 December 30 (date written), Robert Boyle, “[Experiment 17]”, in New Experiments Physico-Mechanicall, Touching the Spring of the Air, and Its Effects, (Made, for the Most Part, in a New Pneumatical Engine) [], Oxford, Oxfordshire: [] H[enry] Hall, printer to the University, for Tho[mas] Robinson, published 1660, →OCLC, page 118:
      [] the remaining Air was not able to counterballance the Mercurial Cylinder, []
  2. (transitive, figuratively) To match or equal in effect when applying opposing force.
    Synonyms: counterpoise, counteract
    Antonyms: overcome, overpower
    Arm wrestling is undecided as long as the opponents counterbalance each other.
    The defenders' knowledge of the terrain roughly counterbalances the attackers' superior equipment.
    • 1820, [Walter Scott], chapter XV, in The Abbot. [], volume I, Edinburgh: [] [James Ballantyne & Co.] for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, []; and for Archibald Constable and Company, and John Ballantyne, [], →OCLC, pages 333–334:
      Still, a strong reluctance to re-enter a service from which he had been dismissed with contempt, almost counterbalanced these considerations.
    • 1838 (date written), L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], chapter VII, in Lady Anne Granard; or, Keeping up Appearances. [], volume I, London: Henry Colburn, [], published 1842, →OCLC, page 84:
      Perhaps her views of life were too morbid, but her companions had enough cheerfulness to counterbalance any undue tinge of sadness given by one who had obviously suffered much.
    • 1859, William Hamilton, “Lecture II. Philosophy—Its Absolute Utility. (B) Objective.”, in H[enry] L[ongueville] Mansel and John Veitch, editors, Lectures on Metaphysics and Logic [], volume I, Edinburgh, London: William Blackwood and Sons, →OCLC, page 35:
      [] the study of mind is necessary to counterbalance and correct the influence of the study of matter; []
    • 1992, Rudolf M[athias] Schuster, The Hepaticae and Anthocerotae of North America: East of the Hundredth Meridian, volume V, New York, N.Y.: Columbia University Press, →ISBN, page ix:
      A considerable effort has been made in these volumes to counterbalance this activity by introducing the student to the plants as living entities with a "life of their own," as Spruce put it.
    • 2023 March 8, David Clough, “The long road that led to Beeching”, in RAIL, number 978, page 43:
      Government control was inconsistent and (at times) motivated by wider political issues that prevented BR being able to charge reasonable rates. Counterbalancing this was the Commission's own policy regarding freight charges. It frequently did not charge enough to cover direct costs (the so-called exceptional rates), causing massive losses to accrue on merchandise movements.