1. Heavy material that is carried to improve stability or maintain proper trim, as on a ship, or to limit buoyancy, as on a balloon.
a. Coarse gravel or crushed rock laid to form a bed for roads or railroads.
b. The gravel ingredient of concrete.
3. Something that gives stability, especially in character.
tr.v. bal·last·ed, bal·last·ing, bal·lasts
1. To stabilize or provide with ballast.
2. To fill (a railroad bed) with or as if with ballast.
[Perhaps from Old Swedish or Old Danish barlast : bar, mere, bare; see bhoso- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots + last, load.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.