Equilibrium Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It

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Have you ever heard of the term equilibrium? 

This word is not only incredibly fun to say out loud, but it’s also a significant term in multiple fields and disciplines, including physics, biology, economics, and mental health, as well as just casual conversation. 

So, what does the word equilibrium mean? How did this word come about? How do you use it in a sentence? Well, those are questions this article seeks to answer. 

Today’s word of the day is equilibrium. By the end of this short guide, you’ll have a solid understanding of this important word and be able to use it accurately. Let’s get started. 

What Is the Meaning of the Word Equilibrium?

If you know your prefixes and suffixes, you might be able to ascertain a little bit about the definition of this word. It may seem complex because it’s a longer word, but the definition is quite simple. Here is the definition of equilibrium:

  • A state of balance where forces that oppose each other are balanced

  • A peaceful or calm state of mind

The first definition can be used in a variety of different ways. You use it to describe an object balanced on something, but you can also use it in various fields of science. 

This definition is often used in the world of physics to describe different energies or forces canceling each other out. However, it can also be used in biology to describe a healthy state of balance or homeostasis within an organism. In chemistry, a compound can be said to have a chemical equilibrium, which means the reactants that caused a chemical reaction have slowed.

You can also use that definition to describe something that is physically balancing. A person’s ability to stay balanced and upright is often determined by the inner ear. If the inner ear is disturbed, a person’s equilibrium, or sense of balance, is thrown off. 

The second definition is used to describe a mental state. A mental state of equilibrium is a state of balance. It doesn’t necessarily mean happy, but it does mean a state of being calm and collected. You can use the definition in this way when talking in casual conversation, and sometimes this word is used by mental health professionals.

Where Did the Word Equilibrium Come From?

To help bring more clarity to the definition of the word equilibrium, it would be helpful to take a look at where this word came from and its history. So, let’s take a moment to study the etymology of equilibrium. 

The word equilibrium, like so many words in the English language, comes from Latin. The word it’s derived from is the Latin aequilibrium, which means “a state of equal balance.” This word was typically used in association with a flat surface that was perfectly balanced.

This Latin word is actually the combination of two other Latin words. The Latin aequi simply means “equal.” And the word libra is Latin for “balance.” So, the word aequilibrium literally means “equal balance.” 

How Equilibrium Became an English Word

Eventually, in the early 1600s, this Latin word would find its way into the English language in a somewhat evolved form. First, the spelling changed slightly to what we see today. Second, a new definition was added to the word. 

At this time, the word equilibrium began to be used to describe a state of mental balance or emotional balance. Since then, the word has continued to change in its definition. As science progressed, we began to use the term to describe the state of a body in biology, a state of rest in physics, and even a state of thermal equilibrium in chemistry. It’s a versatile word that has numerous applications in everyday conversation, as well as academic writing.

What Are Some Examples of Equilibrium in a Sentence?

Seeing the word equilibrium in context can help bring more clarity to its definition and how to use it. So here are some example sentences that use the word equilibrium. 

  • The mixture has an unstable equilibrium right now, so any small temperature change could cause dramatic changes.

  • The US hasn’t been in a state of economic equilibrium in years, so times are tough.

  • Close your eyes, calm your mind and let your thoughts slow to a state of stable equilibrium.

  • In a state of market equilibrium, supply and demand have about equal rates, so prices remain consistent and reliable.

  • In chemistry, if a reaction has a dynamic equilibrium, it means it is a reversible chemical reaction.

  • Ever since we broke up and all that stress got out of my life, I’ve had a general equilibrium that has felt so good.

  • She has such a poise and a calm equilibrium about her that was so elegant and irresistible.

  • Ever since I moved, I just haven’t been able to find my equilibrium.

  • After riding the teacups ride, I was so dizzy that my equilibrium was off for the next hour.

  • In thermodynamic equilibrium, there is no tendency for the condition of a system to change spontaneously. 

What Are the Synonyms for the Word Equilibrium?

Here are some synonyms for the word equilibrium you might find in a thesaurus:

  • Serenity
  • Stability
  • Symmetry
  • Calmness
  • Balance
  • Evenness
  • Poise
  • Rest
  • Steadiness

What Are Antonyms for Equilibrium?

Here are some antonyms for the word equilibrium:

  • Disequilibrium
  • Excitement
  • Agitated
  • Imbalance 

Final Thoughts on the Word Equilibrium

As you can see, the word equilibrium is of great importance in so many aspects of our lives and our language. It’s used in various fields of science, but it also has practical applications as well. 

Now you know everything you need to know about the word equilibrium. This versatile word can find a home in your writing or conversation, even if you aren’t discussing science or biology. Of course, if you ever forget what it means, just circle back to this article.


EQUILIBRIUM | Cambridge English Dictionary 

EQUILIBRIUM English Definition and Meaning | Lexico

Thermodynamic Equilibrium | NASA