Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A balance consisting of a scaled arm suspended off center, a hook at the shorter end on which to hang the object being weighed, and a counterbalance at the longer end that can be moved to find the weight.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A transportable balance with unequal arm lengths.
  • n. A place where steel (and possibly other metals as well) is stored and sold.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A form of balance in which the body to be weighed is suspended from the shorter arm of a lever, which turns on a fulcrum, and a counterpoise is caused to slide upon the longer arm to produce equilibrium, its place upon this arm (which is notched or graduated) indicating the weight; a Roman balance; -- very commonly used also in the plural form, steelyards.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A place in London, comprising great warehouses called before the reign of Edward IV. Gildhalla Teutonicorum, ‘Gildhall of the Germans,’ where, until expelled in 1597, the merchants of the Hanseatic League had their English headquarters; also, the company of merchants themselves.
  • n. A kind of balance with two unequal arms, consisting of a lever in the form of a slender iron bar with one arm very short, the other divided by equidistant notches, having a small crosspiece as fulcrum, to which a bearing for suspension is attached, usually a hook at the short end, and a weight moving upon the long arm.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a portable balance consisting of a pivoted bar with arms of unequal length

Etymologies

steel + yard1, rod.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
steel +‎ yard (“enclosed area" or "rod”) (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • To tell the truth, it was a delicate job, for the steelyard was a clumsy instrument, though, like the sceptical guard's language, the best we had.

    Diversions in Sicily

  • Hitherto the weighing machines in common use have either been designed with some kind of steelyard apparatus, upon which weights could be moved to different distances from a fixed fulcrum, or springs have been so applied as to be compressed to different degrees by different weights put upon the scale pan, or table, of the machine.

    Scientific American Supplement, No. 829, November 21, 1891

  • Five days a week he works in steelyard to support an extended family of five: his brother, his girlfriend, his girlfriend's daughter and his girlfriend's daughter's infant son.

    Yael Julie Fischer: The Desperate Fight to Keep their Homes

  • The weights were very ingeniously made; the steelyard system was adopted.

    The South Pole~ The End of the Winter

  • But his trusses of hay were always six pounds short, and if ever anybody brought a sample truss to steelyard, he had got a little dog, just seven pounds weight, who slipped into the core of it, being just a good hay-color.

    Mary Anerley

  • With the help of the girls he used to fasten a fat little thing, about twelve months old, in the bend at the middle of the handle, and there (like a ham on the steelyard) hung this baby and enjoyed seesaw, and laughed at its own utility.

    Erema

  • Then raising the steelyard, “Which is the one tael mark?” she asked.

    Hung Lou Meng

  • She Yüeh, upon hearing this, dropped the steelyard, and selected

    Hung Lou Meng

  • “But why FOUR pounds?” she objected as she weighed the sugar on a steelyard.

    Childhood

  • It is needless to say that a scale would not show this loss; for the weight destined to weight the object would have lost exactly as much as the object itself; but a spring steelyard for example, the tension of which was independent of the attraction, would have given a just estimate of this loss.

    Round the Moon

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • "Most symbolically, Bray owned a money scale and steelyard, or balance beam scale, to weigh and balance accounts. Just as a ring of keys and a pocket were the signs of the housewife's labor in dispensing foodstuffs from cupboards, so the money scale and steelyards were the symbol of the planter-merchant who weighed coins and crops."
    —Sarah Hand Meacham, Every Home a Distillery: Alcohol, Gender, and Technology in the Colonial Chesapeake (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009), 45

    June 9, 2010