Is there a difference in usage between imbalance and unbalance as nouns?

Specifically, we are designing a product where we measure three (3) related quantities continuously. These three quantities are normally within a reasonable percentage of each other. If there is a large difference, should that be shown as parameter imbalance or parameter unbalance?

3 Answers 3


In common usage, imbalance is the noun meaning the state of being not balanced, while unbalance is the verb meaning to cause the loss of balance. In the context stated, the noun form should be used.

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    The Oxford dictionary specifies this in the meaning of unbalance as a noun: n. L19. [f. UN-1 + BALANCE n.] Lack of balance Commented Dec 11, 2010 at 4:52
  • @VaibhavGarg I checked my Oxford dictionary, 7th edition and it clearly states that "unbalance" is a verb. and the examples cited also support that Here is a link of the screenshot fbcdn-sphotos-h-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xpa1/v/t34.0-12/… Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 10:37

Imbalance is what you want.

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    Can You explain please? Commented Dec 11, 2010 at 4:54
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    No one says "unbalance" nowadays. The noun used is invariably "imbalance." Probably because it's easier to say.
    – Robusto
    Commented Dec 11, 2010 at 4:58
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    The adjective form allows 'unbalanced' though: "He's deranged, mentally unbalanced."
    – Mitch
    Commented Apr 4, 2013 at 18:39
  • But the OP wants a noun.
    – Robusto
    Commented Sep 4, 2013 at 16:34

Imbalance should be used to describe procedures, regulations, laws, labour. E.g., one can say in a work environment, "I am executing the same job as you and producing more positive results than you but yet you earn a higher salary".

Unbalance should be used to describe issues of a more physical nature, e.g. "your tyres in your car is unbalanced therefore you are experiencing a rugged ride", or "there is an umbalance in our weather and climate conditions due to global warming".

Imbalance and unbalance are adjectives. Balance can be used as a verb, e.g. "balance yourself on your bike or you could have a nasty accident", can also be used as a noun. There are many variations depending on the related context.

  • No, inbalance and unbalance without the -d on the end are typically used as nouns or verbs, not as adjectives. Only when you add a -d to those two words do they become adjectives: unbalanced. Also, you have a typo, at one point misspelling unbalance with an m for its first n.
    – tchrist
    Commented Apr 5, 2013 at 13:29

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