- 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.
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MORE ABOUT BALLAST
What does ballast mean?
In general, ballast means something that provides stability or weight.
In a specific sense, it’s most commonly used to refer to heavy material used to stabilize a vessel, such as a ship, especially when it’s not carrying cargo. It also refers to the crushed rock used for the foundation of railroad tracks and paved roads. In electronics, ballast refers to a device that maintains the current in a circuit.
Ballast can also be used as a verb meaning to provide a ship with a material for ballast. In a more general sense, it can mean to keep steady or give stability to, including in a metaphorical way. Ballast can also be used metaphorically as a noun, especially in the context of mental, emotional, political, or economic stability.
Example: The ship’s ballast was improperly secured and caused the ship to list in the water.
Where does ballast come from?
The first records of ballast come from the 1400s. It comes from Middle Low German and is related to the Old Swedish word barlast, which literally means “bare load.”
When a ship is fully loaded with cargo, the weight of the cargo helps the ship to be stable in the water. Without cargo, it needs ballast. This can take many forms, such as stones or lead. (Sometimes, ballast is a permanent feature of a ship, such as a ballast tank that holds water.) In smaller vessels, the crew members themselves might suffice as ballast (called live ballast). Ballast is not limited to ships. In hot air balloons, those bags of sand attached to the car (the basket) are ballast.
Have you ever noticed the layer of stones under railroad tracks? They’re there for ballast, to provide the foundation for the track (gravel or crushed rock is also used as ballast in the base layer of a paved road). In a railroad track, the stone ballast helps with drainage and prevents plants from growing inside the tracks, too.
Ballast can also be used in a figurative way to refer to something that provides balance or stability in life or a specific situation, as in It helps to have a hobby to act as ballast during stressful times.
Did you know ... ?
What are some other forms related to ballast?
- ballaster (noun)
- ballastic (adjective)
- overballast (verb)
- subballast (noun)
What are some synonyms for ballast?
What are some words that share a root or word element with ballast?
What are some words that often get used in discussing ballast?
How is ballast used in real life?
You’ll most often see ballast used in the context of ships and other vessels. Unless it’s used metaphorically, it’s typically discussed in a technical way.
Officer's mess, cargo hold, and ballast. The ship was literally loaded with stones to stabilize it in the water. pic.twitter.com/R5QgGZLscT
— Andrew Rader (@marsrader) August 30, 2019
#DYK shipping vessels can carry aquatic #InvasiveSpecies? ⛵❌ Find out from our research scientist, Dr. Sarah Bailey, how ballast water is one of the top pathways for the spread of aquatic invasive species. Learn more: https://t.co/pp69B5XqOm #InvSpWk pic.twitter.com/SlflDd1zkL
— Fisheries and Oceans (@FishOceansCAN) February 24, 2020
Last weekend, we had cranes in the station laying panels of new track and we also had a big delivery of ballast! 🏗️ 🚉
Thank you for your patience whilst we continue to transform the East Coast Main Line.
For more, visit:
➡️ https://t.co/ruLurxyWvg#EastCoastUpgrade #ECML pic.twitter.com/5prbQbRbs9
— London King's Cross (@NetworkRailKGX) February 18, 2020
Try using ballast!
Is ballast used correctly in the following sentence?
The ballast keeps the hot air balloon stable so it can be better controlled while in the air.
How to use ballast in a sentence
In particular, it had very dense leg bones, a feature of some aquatic creatures like manatees that need the bones for ballast to stay submerged.Spinosaurus’ dense bones fuel debate over whether some dinosaurs could swim|Carolyn Gramling|March 23, 2022|Science News
Other options include dredging around the ship and offloading ballast water, fuel, or cargo.How That Massive Container Ship Stuck in the Suez Canal Is Already Costing the World Billions of Dollars|Joseph Hincks|March 25, 2021|Time
While not exactly the Ugly American, Sinatra provided plenty of his own homegrown ballast.Frank Sinatra and the Birth of the Jet Set|William Stadiem|August 2, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Especially the Southern ones, who by and large run the party, or at least provide its cultural ballast.What That RNC Aide’s Equal Pay Blunder on MSNBC Says About Her Party|Michael Tomasky|April 9, 2014|DAILY BEAST
“Gold lost its structural ballast when it lost its formal relationship to money,” he concludes.All that Glitters Is Not Gold: Inside the New Bubble|Wendy Smith|December 5, 2013|DAILY BEAST
Straighten up and fly right: the capsule is rolling and jettisoning its remaining ballast masses for parachute deploy.Curiosity’s Mars Landing Narrated Moment by Moment by Flight Director Keith Comeaux|Keith Comeaux|August 7, 2012|DAILY BEAST
Spin down, turn to entry attitude and jettison ballast mass in one minute.Curiosity’s Mars Landing Narrated Moment by Moment by Flight Director Keith Comeaux|Keith Comeaux|August 7, 2012|DAILY BEAST
Sand and gravel are also used for "fill," for engine sands, railroad ballast and glass.Hallowed Heritage: The Life of Virginia|Dorothy M. Torpey
Old and new measurements, tonnage, time allowances and movable ballast, are all a sealed book to me.The Pit Town Coronet, Volume II (of 3)|Charles James Wills
The big sloop, hard aground and full of iron ballast, was not a thing to be moved easily.The Rival Campers|Ruel Perley Smith
Our new craft worked and sailed well, after a little addition of ballast.
I ordered the ballast to be thrown overboard, and determined, as our only chance, to attempt to force her over the reef.