See more synonyms for poised on Thesaurus.com
  1. (of a person) composed, dignified, and self-assured.
  2. being in balance or equilibrium: a balloon poised on the nose of a seal.
  3. teetering or wavering: to be poised on the brink of disaster.
  4. hovering or suspended in or as in midair: a bird poised in flight; a helicopter poised overhead.

Origin of poised

First recorded in 1635–45; poise1 + -ed2, -ed3
Related formsun·poised, adjective


  1. a state of balance or equilibrium, as from equality or equal distribution of weight; equipoise.
  2. a dignified, self-confident manner or bearing; composure; self-possession: to show poise in company.
  3. steadiness; stability: intellectual poise.
  4. suspense or wavering, as between rest and motion or two phases of motion: the poise of the tides.
  5. the way of being poised, held, or carried.
  6. the state or position of hovering: the poise of a bird in the air.
verb (used with object), poised, pois·ing.
  1. to adjust, hold, or carry in equilibrium; balance evenly.
  2. to hold supported or raised, as in position for casting, using, etc.: to poise a spear.
  3. to hold or carry in a particular manner: She walked, carefully poising a water jug on her head.
  4. Obsolete. to weigh.
verb (used without object), poised, pois·ing.
  1. to rest in equilibrium; be balanced.
  2. to hover, as a bird in the air.

Origin of poise

1350–1400; (noun) Middle English pois(e) weight < Old French (French poids) < Late Latin pēnsum, noun use of neuter past participle of Latin pendere to weigh; (v.) Middle English poisen to weigh < Old French poiser, variant, based on tonic stem, of peser < Latin pēnsāre, frequentative of pendere

Synonyms for poise

See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com

Antonyms for poise

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for poised

hover, wait, brood, stabilize, hang, support, float, steady, stand, position, hold, ballast

Examples from the Web for poised

Contemporary Examples of poised

Historical Examples of poised

  • For a long time Linda sat with poised pencil, studying her foreground.

    Her Father's Daughter

    Gene Stratton-Porter

  • His body was poised for the attack, as a bow is bent to drive forth the arrow.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • They stood before him palpitating like birds, poised, tense for flight.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • He lifted it, poised it, made as though to throw it, to thrust with it.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • In his hand a revolver appeared, poised for immediate use if there were need.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

British Dictionary definitions for poised


  1. self-possessed; dignified; exhibiting composure
  2. balanced and prepared for actiona skier poised at the top of the slope


  1. composure or dignity of manner
  2. physical balance or assurance in movement or bearing
  3. the state of being balanced or stable; equilibrium; stability
  4. the position of hovering
  5. suspense or indecision
  1. to be or cause to be balanced or suspended
  2. (tr) to hold, as in readinessto poise a lance
  3. (tr) a rare word for weigh 1

Word Origin for poise

C16: from Old French pois weight, from Latin pēnsum, from pendere to weigh


  1. the cgs unit of viscosity; the viscosity of a fluid in which a tangential force of 1 dyne per square centimetre maintains a difference in velocity of 1 centimetre per second between two parallel planes 1 centimetre apart. It is equivalent to 0.1 newton second per square metreSymbol: P

Word Origin for poise

C20: named after Jean Louis Marie Poiseuille (1799–1869), French physician
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for poised



early 15c., "weight, quality of being heavy," later "significance, importance" (mid-15c.), from Old French pois "weight, balance, consideration" (12c., Modern French poids), from Medieval Latin pesum "weight," from Latin pensum "something weighted or weighed," (source of Provençal and Catalan pes, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian peso), noun use of neuter past participle of pendere "to weigh" (see pendant).

The sense of "steadiness, composure" first recorded 1640s, from notion of being equally weighted on either side (1550s). Meaning "balance" is from 1711; meaning "way in which the body is carried" is from 1770.



late 14c., "to have a certain weight," from stressed form of Old French peser "to weigh, be heavy; weigh down, be a burden; worry, be a concern," from Vulgar Latin *pesare, from Latin pensare "to weigh carefully, weigh out, counter-balance," frequentative of pendere (past participle pensus) "to weigh" (see pendant). For form evolution from Latin to French, see OED. Meaning "to place in equilibrium" is from 1630s (cf. equipoise). Passive sense of "to be ready" (to do something) is from 1932. Related: Poised; poising. In 15c. a poiser was an official who weighed goods.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

poised in Medicine


[poiz, pwäz]
  1. A centimeter-gram-second unit of dynamic viscosity equal to one dyne-second per square centimeter.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

poised in Science


[poiz, pwäz]
  1. The unit of dynamic viscosity in the centimeter-gram-second system, equal to one dyne-second per square centimeter, or 0.1 pascal-seconds.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.