balance the books

Idioms & Phrases

balance the books

  1. Add up the debits and credits of an account and determine the difference; also, bring the two sides into equilibrium. For example, It's Joe's job to balance the books each quarter. [Late 1500s]

  2. Settle an account by paying what is due, as in We can't balance the books till your last check clears. [Early 1700s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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