Definition of counterpoise in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkaʊntəpɔɪz/


1A factor or force that balances or neutralizes another: the organization sees the power of Brussels as a counterpoise to that of London
More example sentences
  • The European Union, meanwhile, is patiently assembling the economic girth and institutional confidence to act as the leading counterpoise to Washington.
  • He will be a fitting counterpoise to Hindu, and for that matter any other communalism, and a persuasive harbinger of the Indian version of secularism.
  • Down These Mean Streets thus offers an interesting counterpoise to Appiah's critique of Du Bois, and to all searches for a ‘purified’ discourse of race.
1.1A counterbalancing weight.
Example sentences
  • There are more wheels and counterpoises in this engine than are easily imagined.
1.2A state of equilibrium: the building stands in counterpoise to a Roman temple
More example sentences
  • In 1980, it seemed, these two attitudes were in perfect counterpoise.
  • Though he goes into great detail about the complexities of the rhetoric of self in counterpoise with society, Vasquez seems to leave the dichotomy intact, giving us a sense of two disparate rhetorical models.
  • Michelangelo, Raphael, and Titian pursued the poetics of counterpoise in their art.


[with object]
1Have an opposing and balancing effect on: they make a delightful couple, his gentle intellectuality counterpoised by her firm practicality
More example sentences
  • The pair of them make a delightfully balanced couple, his gentle intellectuality counterpoised by her firm practicality.
  • Now, just as then, the desperation of the poor counterpoises the obscene consumption of the rich.
  • The coarse texture of the concrete is counterpoised to the silky surface of aluminium kitchen fittings and gleaming expanse of woodblock floor.
1.1Bring into contrast: the stories counterpoise a young recruit with an old-timer
More example sentences
  • In one excellent slow-motion scene his brutal vandalism is counterpoised with his young sister's performance in the glitzy pre-teen dance troupe Sparkle Motion.
  • The demarcation is clear: Heumann doesn't allow the two modes to blur together; he deliberately counterpoises one against the other in precarious, hypnotic equilibrium.
  • Later students seem to have copied Kuniyoshi's set as much to ride the coattails of his commercial success as to learn his techniques for counterpoising and balancing figures in action.


Late Middle English: from Old French contrepois from contre 'against' + pois from Latin pensum 'weight'. Compare with poise1. The verb, originally counterpeise, from Old French contrepeser, was altered under the influence of the noun in the 16th century.

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Line breaks: coun¦ter|poise

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