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used in a sentence
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Definition calm and in control — as in "shows poise under pressure"


prepared for action — as in "poised for action" — (sometimes suspended or hovering as in "a finger poised over the mute button")


confident and graceful in movement — as in "the poise and balance of a dancer"

Much more rarely, poise is a technical word referencing a unit of dynamic viscosity.
  • She has great charm and great poise.
poise = composure (calm confidence — even when under pressure)
  • The army is poised to attack.
  • poised = prepared (to do something)
  • She has such balance and poise, she can effortlessly move, jump, and change position on the balance beam.
  • poise = confidence and grace in movement
  • The once self-conscious girl is now a woman with considerable poise.
  • poise = composure (calm confidence)
  • I'm helpless as the first hunter crashes through the trees, spear lifted, poised to throw.
    Suzanne Collins  --  The Hunger Games
  • poised = prepared (ready)
  • Archie was at the doorway, poised to flee if Janza made a move.
    Robert Cormier  --  The Chocolate War
  • poised = prepared (ready)
  • He was poised as if to begin running.
    David Almond  --  Kit's Wilderness
  • poised = ready and prepared
  • But the young body carried a sense of command, a poised assurance,
    Frank Herbert  --  Dune
  • poised = coolness and composure
  • Practice elocution, poise and how to attain it
    F. Scott Fitzgerald  --  The Great Gatsby
  • poise = remaining calm and in control
  • Curley was balanced and poised.
    John Steinbeck  --  Of Mice and Men
  • poised = ready to move as needed
  • And the sled itself seemed to be poised at the top of a long, extended mound that rose from the very land where he was.
    Lois Lowry  --  The Giver
  • poised = balanced and ready for action
  • Her small hands were clasped to her chest and she was poised on her toes as if music were about to start.
    Madeline Miller  --  Circe
  • poised = balanced and ready for action
  • At regular intervals along this channel were guards, looking around anxiously and poised to strike at the first hint of danger.
    Kiera Cass  --  The Selection
  • poised = prepared (ready)
  • His newborn cunning gave him poise and control.
    Jon Krakauer  --  Into the Wild
  • poise = composure (a state of calmness)
  • He looked vaguely up, studied the straddling, at-bay figure of Brinker at the core of the poised perimeter of boys, hesitated, blinked, and then in his organ voice said good-naturedly, "Next?"
    John Knowles  --  A Separate Peace
  • poised = ready for action
  • The great rock loitered, poised on one toe, decided not to return, moved through the air, fell, struck, turned over, leapt droning through the air and smashed a deep hole in the canopy of the forest.
    William Golding  --  Lord of the Flies
  • poised = balanced
  • This practice allegedly overcame a variety of evils: standing in front of his fellows encouraged good posture and gave a child poise; delivering a short talk made him word-conscious; learning his current event strengthened his memory; being singled out made him more than ever anxious to return to the Group.
    Harper Lee  --  To Kill a Mockingbird
  • poise = composure or grace
  • I thought that the Professor was going to break down and have hysterics, just as he had when Lucy died, but with a great effort he controlled himself and was at perfect nervous poise when Mrs. Harker tripped into the room, bright and happy looking and, in the doing of work, seemingly forgetful of her misery.
    Bram Stoker  --  Dracula
  • poise = composure
  • He grasped the bars of the window firmly, ready to pull, and stood poised.
    Natalie Babbitt  --  Tuck Everlasting
  • poised = in control and prepared
  • He sits lightly, poised, upright, wooden-faced in the saddle, the broken hat raked at a swaggering angle.
    William Faulkner  --  As I Lay Dying
poised = in control and prepared to move as needed

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