- Nautical. any heavy material carried temporarily or permanently in a vessel to provide desired draft and stability.
- Aeronautics. something heavy, as bags of sand, placed in the car of a balloon for control of altitude and, less often, of attitude, or placed in an aircraft to control the position of the center of gravity.
- anything that gives mental, moral, or political stability or steadiness: the ballast of a steady income.
- gravel, broken stone, slag, etc., placed between and under the ties of a railroad to give stability, provide drainage, and distribute loads.
- Also called ballast resistor.a device, often a resistor, that maintains the current in a circuit at a constant value by varying its resistance in order to counteract changes in voltage.
- a device that maintains the current through a fluorescent or mercury lamp at the desired constant value, sometimes also providing the necessary starting voltage and current.
- to furnish with ballast: to ballast a ship.
- to give steadiness to; keep steady: parental responsibilities that ballast a person.
- in ballast, Nautical. carrying only ballast; carrying no cargo.
Origin of ballast
Examples from the Web for ballast
But are the ballast masses, so critical for the Apollo entry guidance to work properly, really gone as they should be?Curiosity’s Mars Landing Narrated Moment by Moment by Flight Director Keith Comeaux
August 7, 2012
The vessel was in ballast, and had brought money to make her purchases with.Ned Myers
James Fenimore Cooper
You are in the same boat, and we must divide the ballast a little more equally.'Barnaby Rudge
Four or five of these busts had been struck into the launch as ballast.Homeward Bound
James Fenimore Cooper
It is a tempest of fancies, and the only ballast I know is a respect to the present hour.Essays, Second Series
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Will you take me down to the Point when you get the ballast?Little By Little
William Taylor Adams
- any dense heavy material, such as lead or iron pigs, used to stabilize a vessel, esp one that is not carrying cargo
- crushed rock, broken stone, etc, used for the foundation of a road or railway track
- coarse aggregate of sandy gravel, used in making concrete
- anything that provides stability or weight
- electronics a device for maintaining the current in a circuit
- to give stability or weight to
Word Origin and History for ballast
"heavy material used to steady a ship," 1520s, from Middle English bar "bare" (see bare; in this case "mere") + last "a load, burden," or borrowed from identical terms in North Sea Germanic and Scandinavian (cf. Old Danish barlast, 14c.). "Mere" because not carried for commercial purposes. Dutch balg-last "ballast," literally "belly-load," is a folk-etymology corruption.