Balance The Scales: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
October 20, 2023

"Balance the scales" means creating equality or fairness in situations where there has been some imbalance or unfairness. This term springs from the image of a two-pan balance scale, where objects are placed on both sides to measure their weight. When both sides hold the same weight, the scale is in balance. Metaphorically, it can relate to justice, fairness, or creating equilibrium in various situations.

In short:

  • "Balance the scales" refers to making situations fair or equal.
  • It describes the effort to correct any form of disparity or inequality.

What Does "Balance the Scales" Mean?

The phrase "balance the scales" emphasizes creating or restoring fairness. Whether in justice, relationships, or business, the term communicates the act of making things right. If someone says, "We need to balance the scales," they're expressing the need to ensure fairness and equality.

Let's dive deeper into its essence and how it's used:

  • "Balance the scales" often pops up in discussions about justice or morality, signaling a need to address wrongs.
  • It's used to point out situations where there's been an imbalance – be it in opportunities, resources, or treatment – and a push to rectify it.
  • You might hear this term in a storyline or drama when a character seeks to avenge a wrong or make amends for past mistakes.
  • Examples in sentences could be: "The new law aims to balance the scales for small business owners."
  • Similar expressions include "level the playing field," "make things right," and "restore the balance.

Where Does "Balance the Scales" Come From?

The concept of balancing scales can be traced back to ancient civilizations. For instance, in ancient Egyptian mythology, the goddess Maat would weigh the hearts of the deceased against a feather on a scale to determine their worthiness for the afterlife. If the heart was lighter than the feather, the person had lived a just and moral life. In modern usage, we use it to describe efforts to rectify an imbalance or injustice.

Historical Example

DIANA: How unfair of you! Can I weigh anything else against my child's life?
ESTHER (mischievously): A new father for Tommy might balance the scales.

- Plays of the 19th and 20th Centuries, Volume 30, 1853

10 Examples of "Balance the Scales" in Sentences

To help you better understand when to use this phrase, let's look at some examples from different situations:

  • After years of underpayment, the company finally decided to balance the scales by giving a substantial bonus to its employees.
  • Effective immediately, the new policies aim to balance the scales between large corporations and small businesses.
  • To challenge the status quo, we need to balance the scales of justice and fairness.
  • His apology, though late, was a genuine attempt to balance the scales for past wrongdoings.
  • The trade agreement was negotiated to balance the scales in terms of exports and imports between the two nations.
  • The cream always rises to the top. That's why they introduced scholarships to balance the scales for students from low-income backgrounds.
  • The good souls donated a significant portion of their wealth to balance the scales and support underprivileged children's education.
  • With experience, she learned how to balance the scales in conflicting situations.
  • His mentorship program was an effort to balance the scales for young talents in need of guidance.
  • There was no time to putz around; she took direct action to balance the scales in her field.

Examples of "Balance the Scales" in Pop Culture

This phrase, often associated with justice and fairness, has also made its mark in popular culture.

Let's see some examples:

  • A "Balance the Scales" microgame appears in Orbulon's Culture level in "WarioWare: Get It Together!"
  • The Commercial Appeal presents its 15th annual Pop Culture Necrology, aiming to balance the scales by highlighting lesser-known figures.
  • An article on Kikn touches upon trying to make sense of emotions and balancing the scales of life's journey.
  • Zing Pop Culture Australia announces new Moon Knight Pop! Vinyls, using the phrase to describe the character's theme.
  • An article on AALDEF celebrates the film "Crazy Rich Asians" for helping to balance the scales in pop culture and media in 2018.
  • JoeProsit.com features an interview with Sebastian Hetman, who discusses Norse mythology in pop culture and the need to balance the scales with Slavic mythology.
  • The New York Times article "On That Woman in the Rough" discusses the challenge of balancing the scales of gender equity in male-dominated sports.

Synonyms: Other/Different Ways to Say "Balance the Scales"

Several other phrases carry a similar sentiment.

Here's a list of them:

  • Level the playing field
  • Make things right
  • Restore fairness
  • Equalize opportunities
  • Settle the score
  • Bring things into alignment
  • Rectify the imbalance
  • Adjust for fairness
  • Redress the balance
  • Compensate for differences

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Balance the Scales":

  • What does "balance the scales" mean?

"Balance the scales" is all about making things fair or right, especially if there has been an imbalance or injustice in the past.

  • How can I use "balance the scales" in a sentence?

You can use it to talk about justice, fairness, or evening things out. Like, "She spent years searching for ways to balance the scales of gender equality in her industry.

  • Is the idiom typically used in specific situations?

It's often used in situations related to justice, fairness, or rectifying an imbalance, be it in personal relationships, business, or societal contexts.

  • Can we apply it to personal relationships?

Definitely! If one person feels they've been putting in more effort into the relationship, they might seek ways to balance the scales.

  • Is it about revenge?

Not necessarily. While some might use it in the context of getting back at someone, it's primarily about achieving fairness or justice, not revenge.

  • Does it relate to the law and justice system?

Yes, it often does. In legal contexts, "balance the scales" can mean ensuring justice is served or making things right after an injustice.

  • Can it be used in financial or business contexts?

For sure! In business, it could refer to equalizing competition or addressing pay disparities.

  • Is it a modern expression?

While it's still popularly used today, the idea of balancing scales as a symbol of justice and fairness dates back to ancient times, especially in imagery related to the justice system.

  • Can we use it metaphorically?

Absolutely. Just like in the context of evening out efforts in a relationship or addressing societal disparities, it's often used as a metaphor for establishing fairness.

  • Is it related to "leveling the playing field"?

They're similar! Both phrases emphasize fairness and creating equal opportunities, but "balance the scales" leans more toward rectifying past wrongs, while "leveling the playing field" focuses on ensuring equal chances from the start.

Final Thoughts About "Balance the Scales"

"Balance the scales" is a call for fairness, justice, and rectifying imbalances. Achieving balance remains vital in our personal lives, workplaces, or the broader society.

Here's a quick recap:

  • "Balance the scales" underlines the need for fairness and justice in situations where there's been an imbalance.
  • The phrase is versatile, popping up in personal chats, business meetings, or discussions about societal issues.
  • While it's not always about making things exactly even, it's about recognizing disparities and taking steps to make things right.

So, next time you sense an imbalance, whether it's at work, in a relationship, or anywhere else, remember the importance of balancing those scales. It's not just about fairness but also about creating a more harmonious and equitable environment for all.

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