stabilize

stabilize, steady, poise, balance, ballast, trim are comparable when they mean to maintain or cause to maintain position or equilibrium. Despite their agreement in basic meaning they vary widely in their implications and in their range of application and are seldom interchangeable.
Stabilize is used chiefly in reference to something which is fluctuating or is subject to fluctuation and which requires either external aids or regulation
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Greece was an infant state, without stabilizing traditions or profound culture— Durant

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serve the whole nation by policies designed to stabilize the economy— Eisenhower

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the tendency of science is necessarily to stabilize terms, to freeze them into strict denotations— Cleanth Brooks

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a gyroscope for stabilizing an airplane

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Steady is used chiefly in reference to something which is losing its customary or necessary stability or equilibrium and is demonstrating instability (as by rocking, shaking, fluttering, or tipping)
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steady a table by putting a piece of wood under one of its legs

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medics steadied trays of instruments against bomb concussions— Alcine

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drew a deep breath and steadied himself with an effort of will— Huxley

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Poise is used chiefly in reference to something that maintains its equilibrium perfectly under adverse conditions or in opposition to external forces (as gravity); it implies a proper distribution of weight with reference to the supporting medium (as air or water) or to the part (as a base, a foot, the hand, or a column) that bears the weight
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the ballet dancer poised on tiptoe for an instant

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Mrs. Buffo, poised on her rampart . . . took the full impact of the onslaught— Pynchon

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In extended use, when employed in reference to the mind or spirit, poise implies either ac-quired control over the faculties or an inner serenity that enables one to remain steady or impervious to disquieting or disturbing influences
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he owed his reputation ... to this particular trait, the ability to poise himself, invulnerable to surprise— Theodore Sturgeon

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self-collected, poised, and steady— Wordsworth

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Balance also implies an equilibrium that is the result of the proper distribution of weight, but it carries none of the suggestions of sustained position or equilibrium so strong in poise; thus, one balances a boat by adjusting its cargo so that there is no excess weight at any one point, and one balances a flywheel by removing portions where the weight is excessive or by adding weight in its lighter sections, but in either case the equilibrium may be lost if the cargo shifts or a section of the flywheel alters in weight Though both balance and poise imply that the thing affected is steadied, balance often carries so strong an implication of uncertain equilibrium that it suggests wavering or rocking
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in a moment of inattention, the child crept to the edge, and was balanced on the very verge. To call to it, to touch it, would have insured its destruction— Jefferies

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the musicians struggled toward the raft in hip-deep water, balancing themselves with outthrust trombones and cornets— Styron

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caution warned her not... to disturb her equilibrium; her present peace of mind was too precious— and too precariously balancedHervey

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Ballast is used in reference to what needs to be held down because too light or too buoyant; it implies the addition of something heavy or solid enough to ensure stability
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ballast a ship with stone or metal

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ballast a free balloon with bags of sand

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Ballast is occasionally found in extended use with reference especially to the mind and the moral character that might otherwise suffer from volatility, frivolousness, or unwieldiness
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'tls charity must ballast the heart— Hammond

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like many other men of high intellectual gifts, Arnold was ballasted with a just proportion of... practical wisdom— Montague

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Trim is chiefly nautical; it implies proper balancing of a boat or ship so that it sits well on the water or fulfills any of the conditions that make for steadiness in sailing
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they could be trimmed on an even keel.. . like scales, in which the weight on one side must be counterpoised by a weight in the other— Jefferies

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Analogous words: regulate, *adjust, fix: *set, settle, establish

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • stabilize — sta‧bil‧ize [ˈsteɪblaɪz] also stabilise verb [intransitive, transitive] to become firm, steady, or unchanging, or to make something do this: • We want to stabilize consumer prices for sugar and sugar products. • the government s plan to… …   Financial and business terms

  • stabilize — I verb balance, clinch, counterbalance, establish, firm up, round, secure, set, settle, steady II index adjust (regulate), compensate (counterbalance), establish ( …   Law dictionary

  • stabilize — (v.) 1861, originally of ships; probably a back formation from STABILITY (Cf. stability). Related: Stabilized; stabilizing …   Etymology dictionary

  • stabilize — (Amer.) sta·bi·lize || steɪbɪlaɪz v. make stable; become stable; maintain a given level (also stabilise) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • stabilize — [v] make or keep in steady state; make resistant to change balance, ballast, bolt, brace, buttress, counterbalance, counterpoise, equalize, fasten, firm, firm up*, fix, freeze*, maintain, ossify, poise, preserve, prop, secure, set, settle,… …   New thesaurus

  • stabilize — (also stabilise) ► VERB ▪ make or become stable. DERIVATIVES stabilization noun …   English terms dictionary

  • stabilize — [stā′bə līz΄] vt. stabilized, stabilizing [Fr stabiliser < L stabilis: see STABLE1 & IZE] 1. to make stable, or firm 2. to keep from changing or fluctuating, as in price 3. to give stability to (an airplane, ship, etc.) with a stabilizer …   English World dictionary

  • stabilize — UK [ˈsteɪbəlaɪz] / US [ˈsteɪb(ə)lˌaɪz] verb Word forms stabilize : present tense I/you/we/they stabilize he/she/it stabilizes present participle stabilizing past tense stabilized past participle stabilized 1) a) [intransitive] to reach a state… …   English dictionary

  • stabilize — sta|bi|lize [ steıbl,aız ] verb 1. ) intransitive or transitive to reach a point where a medical condition is not likely to suddenly become worse, or to make someone reach this point: We have to stabilize her before she can be moved. 2. )… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • stabilize — sta·bi·lize also Brit sta·bi·lise stā bə .līz vb, lized also Brit lised; liz·ing also Brit lis·ing vt to make stable <stabilize a patient s condition> vi to become stable <when pulse and blood pressure respond and stabilize (Jour. Amer.… …   Medical dictionary

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