off balance

1

Out of equilibrium, unsteady, as in When learning how to ride a two-wheeler, it's easy to get off balance and fall, or She stood up and threw the canoe off balance. [Mid-1900s]

2

Surprised, unprepared, as in The teacher gives unannounced tests to keep the class off balance. [Second half of 1900s]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

Related Words for off-balance

lopsided, unsteady

Examples from the Web for off-balance

Contemporary Examples of off-balance

  • Libra The current cosmic climate brings temptation, potentially setting you off-balance.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Zodiac Beast: April 24-30

    Starsky + Cox

    April 23, 2011

  • Indeed, Congress confronted this same problem in 1933, when it investigated the off-balance sheet transactions of that era.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Dodd Wall Street Charade

    Frank Partnoy

    March 15, 2010

  • The gaping hole in the bill involves a concept known as off-balance sheet accounting.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Dodd Wall Street Charade

    Frank Partnoy

    March 15, 2010

  • That people were allowed to have all these off-balance sheets was like having a second set of books.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The End Is Near!

    Jeffrey Leeds

    March 5, 2009

Historical Examples of off-balance

  • Even when she was off-balance, her feet tapped out the elementary routine.

    At the Post

    Horace Leonard Gold

  • Retief put out an arm as the vehicle rounded a corner, just catching the ambassador as he staggered, off-balance.

    The Yillian Way

    John Keith Laumer

  • Youre not yourself; youre over-strained and off-balance and Im so frightfully sorry all this has fallen upon you at such a time.

    Adrienne Toner

    Anne Douglas Sedgwick

  • The second beam took Rynason in the left wrist and spun him off-balance for a moment.

    Warlord of Kor

    Terry Gene Carr