Illustration: Nick Shepherd

Where does the word 'balance' come from?

WORDS-WORTH: Whether it's your accounts or managing work and life, it's important to keep a healthy balance.

by John Morrish
Last Updated: 20 Aug 2015

You may have a healthy 'balance' in your accounts, but is that true of your life? The word 'balance' is Latin in origin. It was first used in English in the Middle Ages. It meant the scales you used to see in markets or your mum's kitchen, two flat surfaces connected by a beam and poised on a central pivot. It began to be used for monetary matters in the time of Elizabeth I, whereas the idea of mental or emotional 'balance' is 19th century. 'Work/life balance', first recorded in the 1970s, is important today. A good thing, on balance.

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