Idiom:  tip the scales / balance

Picture of a beautiful beachfront home to depict the idiom


Idiom:  tip the scales / tip the balance

  • The deciding factor that causes something to happen or a decision to be made.

Note: There is another idiom "tip the scales at" that has a different meaning. Check it out here.

Idiom origin:  A scale is an instrument for weighing something. There are many types of scales. One type is called a "balance scale." One use of this type of scale is to learn which object (or set of objects) weigh more than another object(s).

The device has a balanced beam in the center and two pans on each side. When the two pans balance, the weight of the mass is equal. The meaning of the verb "tip" in this situation is to move something at a downward angle.

Example sentences

— I prefer to get a new job but if I get a big bonus, it’ll tip the scales for me to continue working at the firm another year.

— I wanted to go to Stanford but the scholarship to the University of Michigan tipped the scales and I’m going there instead.

— I loved both jobs but the long commute tipped the balance and made me accept the offer at the office closer to my home.

— This 25% discount offer definitely tips the scales over the other purse, even if I don't like it quite as much.

— Is there anything you can do to tip the balance in your favor? Another mobile phone company is trying to get me to switch to their service.

— Outstanding customer service always tips the scales for me. I'm willing to pay more to have the professional support.

A businessman & businesswoman sit in the pans of a balance scale, with the woman at a higher level.

— Sarah's ability to speak four languages fluently tipped the balance over the other candidate for the director of sales role.

— Both options sound fantastic but the warranty on this brand really tips the scales in its favor, don't you think?

— What else can we do to tip the scales to get this customer? We have to still make a profit!

— Let's offer her a $10,000 signing bonus, an extra week of vacation and a parking space. Hopefully, that will tip the balance so she'll select our firm.

— The other law firm offered me a lot of perks but the atmosphere here is much more relaxed and that tipped the balance for me.


  • have the edge on
  • go one better than
  • be a cut above
  • be a class above
  • shoot ahead of
  • be on another level

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