I'm trying to think of a formal word to describe the "tipping point" of an object.

This would be the same point at which an object would be perfectly balanced.

  • 1
    Formal words might be "unstable equilibrium state" or "a saddle point". Refer en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mechanical_equilibrium for the Physics Details. – Prem Apr 18 '15 at 7:36
  • This is more complicated than you suggest. A cube is stable sitting flat, astable if balanced on an edge, and unstable if somewhere between flat and balanced on edge. Normally the "tipping point" would be regarded as the astable point -- less deflection and it will fall back to it's original flat position, more deflection and it will roll onto its side. – Hot Licks Apr 18 '15 at 17:06

Are you looking for the center of gravity?

An object will balance when its center of gravity (the place where all of its mass, on the average, resides) is over the point of support. The larger the base, the more stable the object is.

Source - Exploratorium

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    I don't think this is correct. It is not the "point" where the object loses its balance. Center of gravity can be inside or even outside the object. An object will balance on a pivot point when the center of gravity is above or below that pivot point. – ermanen Apr 18 '15 at 14:34

A fulcrum is the pivot point for a lever; but it can also be used as the balancing point of an object.

Physics the point on which an object balances or turns [Macmillan]

A simple diagram to illustrate:

enter image description here bvg8science.wikispaces.com

  • +1 You beat me to it. I think the answer is pivot point or balance point. Fulcrum can be used also. Here is an example from Nasa. – ermanen Apr 18 '15 at 5:08
  • A fulcrum is an external object upon which a lever arm is placed and about which it pivots- it is not part of the object itself. – Jim Apr 18 '15 at 5:35
  • Jim, that's very true, but depending on the specific idea being expressed, it may still be a useful concept. I should have provided a disclaimer, perhaps, but my goal was simply to provide a useful lead. – Sova Apr 18 '15 at 5:42
  • Thanks for the answer, but a fulcrum is not exactly what I'm looking for. – Sponge Bob Apr 18 '15 at 5:59
  • @Sova: I improved your answer if you don't mind. – ermanen Apr 18 '15 at 22:09

More like sliding than tipping and (metaphorically) more to do with an objects 'place' in a hierarchy; added to the top (of the pile), it falls to the bottom.

Angle of Repose -Wiki

the maximum angle at which an object can rest on an inclined plane without sliding down.

If you have complaints; get in line, the suggestion box has reached an angle of repose.

I wavered on posting this, until I saw it linked to the tipping point wiki. A single word may exist that is more concise, but I believe that tipping point is the correct terminology.


disequilibrium ("a loss or lack of balance" -- m-w.com) is the perfect fit I believe.

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