Compensate, countervail, balance, offset, counterbalance, counterpoise are comparable when meaning to make up for or to undo the effects of.
Compensate is by far the broadest of these terms both in mode of use and scope of application. It may be used transitively and especially passively with either the one to be made up to or the thing to be made up for as object, or it may be used intransitively.
In either case it is commonly modified by a phrase governed by for denoting a cause, by with specifying an equivalent, or by by indicating an action.
It is freely applicable to the purely physical to the economic (see also PAY) or to the immaterial.
One thing countervails another, or against another, when the former is sufficiently strong, powerful, or efficient to counteract the influence exerted or the harm or damage done by the latter or suffered in consequence of it.
One thing balances another, or two things balance (or balance each other) when both are so adjusted that they are either equal or properly proportioned (as in numbers, quantity, size, importance, or effectiveness)and the combination is harmonious because neither one outweighs the other or can exert a harmful influence on the whole.
One thing offsets another (this and the following terms have no intransitive use) when the former, as the exact opposite of the latter and its equal (as in importance, in effectiveness, in power, or in numbers), neutralizes the latter's good or evil effect, gain or loss, or benefit or harm.
One thing counterbalances another when the former serves or is intended to serve to offset some quality (as an excess, a deficiency, or an evil) in the latter or when the former acts as a corrective of any tendency in the latter to loss of equilibrium or proper balance, especially when it, or one of its parts, is subjected to undue pressure, strain, or tension.
One thing counterpoises another when the former provides the equivalent of the latter in weight or value (physical, spiritual, artistic) and insures the balance of the whole.