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Word of the Day
Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Definitions for ballast

  1. anything that gives mental, moral, or political stability or steadiness: the ballast of a steady income.
  2. Nautical. any heavy material carried temporarily or permanently in a vessel to provide desired draft and stability.
  3. 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.

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Citations for ballast
The respectable concourse, I contend, men and women, should not have their sensations heightened in the hot-bed of luxurious indolence, at the expence of their understanding; for, unless there be a ballast of understanding, they will never become either virtuous or free... Mary Wollstonecraft, Vindication of the Rights of Woman, 1792
...Mr. Ejiofor’s restrained, open, translucent performance works as a ballast, something to cling onto, especially during the frenzies of violence. Manohla Dargis, "The Blood and Tears, Not the Magnolias," New York Times, October 17, 2013
Origin of ballast
1450-1500
Ballast emerged in English in the late 1400s with a nautical noun sense of "any heavy material used to steady a ship." It is perhaps of Scandinavian origin, descending from the Old Swedish and Old Danish term barlast, bar meaning "mere" or "bare," and last meaning "load" or "cargo."