From this book "Deep Learning and Convolutional Neural Networks for Medical Image Computing"

In 2013, I was fortunate to attract Dr. Holger Roth to be a postdoctoral fellow in my group. Holger had received his graduate training under David Hawkes at University College London. With this outstanding foundation, Holger was poised to enter the new deep learning field and take it by storm. He published early papers on pancreas and lymph node detection and segmentation, two very challenging problems in radiology image processing.

webster gives this definition about "poise"

: to hold or carry in equilibrium

: to hold or carry (the head) in a particular way

none of these seems to be the meaning in the book.

does "poise somebody" mean "invite", "ask", or some other meaning?


3 Answers 3


The meaning you actually want is one of the senses of poise from Merriam-Webster that you didn't quote:

intransitive verb
1 : to become drawn up into readiness

A common expression is:

She was poised (tensed and ready) for action.

So, in the example text:

Holger was poised (holding himself in preparation) to enter the new deep learning field and take it by storm.


To add to Jason's answer, people do not 'poise' other people, either it is used physically that someone is poised, in which case they have prepared themselves, or metaphorically as in your example where it is also somewhat to do with the circumstances they find themselves in as well as their attitude to those circumstances.

  • For all practical purposes, this is normally true. But an exception would be made, for example, if you said that a person was poised on my head. This might sound nonsensical—until you consider the very real circus performers of Cirque du Soleil who do this routinely. Jul 22, 2019 at 12:15
  • An artist may well poise his/her model for a portrait. Jul 22, 2019 at 12:16
  • 2
    @TobySpeight No, in that case, I think you're thinking of pose, not poise. Jul 22, 2019 at 12:16

It's about readiness of action rather than being asked or invited. Consider the word 'counterpoise' which indicates an opposing or balancing of, well, a poise. So you could say that certain actions by an organisation counterpoised those of another.

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