from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A temporary platform, either supported from below or suspended from above, on which workers sit or stand when performing tasks at heights above the ground.
  • noun A raised wooden framework or platform.
  • noun A platform used in the execution of condemned prisoners, as by hanging or beheading.
  • transitive verb To provide or support with a raised framework or platform.
  • transitive verb To place on a raised framework or platform.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To furnish with a scaffold; sustain; uphold, as with a scaffold.
  • To lay or place on a scaffold; particularly, to place (dead bodies) on a scaffold to decay or be eaten by birds, as is customary with some uncivilized tribes.
  • noun A temporary gallery or stage raised either as a place for exhibiting a spectacle or for spectators to stand or sit.
  • noun The gallery or highest tier of seats in a theater.
  • noun A stage or platform, usually elevated, for the execution of a criminal.
  • noun A temporary structure upon which workmen stand in erecting the walls of a building. See cut under putlog.
  • noun An elevated platform upon which dead bodies are placed—a mode of disposing of the dead practised by some tribes, as of North American Indians, instead of burial; a kind of permanent bier.
  • noun In embryology, a temporary structure outlining parts to be subsequently formed in or upon it; a framework: as, the cartilaginous scaffold of the skull. Also scaffolding.
  • noun In metallurgy, an obstruction in the blast-furnace above the twyers, caused by the imperfect working of the furnace in consequence of insufficient or unsuitable flux, bad fuel, irregular charging, etc.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To furnish or uphold with a scaffold.
  • noun A temporary structure of timber, boards, etc., for various purposes, as for supporting workmen and materials in building, for exhibiting a spectacle upon, for holding the spectators at a show, etc.
  • noun Specifically, a stage or elevated platform for the execution of a criminal.
  • noun (Metal.) An accumulation of adherent, partly fused material forming a shelf, or dome-shaped obstruction, above the tuyères in a blast furnace.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A structure made of scaffolding, for workers to stand on while working on a building.
  • noun An elevated platform on which a criminal is executed.
  • verb transitive To set up a scaffolding; to surround a building with scaffolding.

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

  • noun a platform from which criminals are executed (hanged or beheaded)
  • verb provide with a scaffold for support
  • noun a temporary arrangement erected around a building for convenience of workers


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

[Middle English, from Medieval Latin scaffaldus, of Old French origin.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English scaffold, scaffalde, from Medieval Latin scaffaldus, from Old French eschaffaut, escadafaut ("platform to see a tournament"), from Late Latin scadafaltum, from ex- + *cadafaltum, catafalcum ("view-stage"), from Old Italian *catare (“to view, see”) + falco ("a stage"), a variant of balco ("stage, beam, balk"), from Lombardic palko, palcho ("scaffold, balk, beam"), from Proto-Germanic *balkô (“beam, rafter”), from Proto-Indo-European *bhelg- (“beam, plank”). Akin to Old High German balco, balcho ("scaffold, balk, beam"). More at catafalque, balcony, balk.


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word scaffold.


  • I think the best way to scaffold is to assess your students, give them something a bit challenging, and then work backwards as much as you need to to eventually provide enough support that they can accomplish the task or participate in the class successfully.

    S is for Scaffolding « An A-Z of ELT 2010

  • The technology works by placing a very fine apparatus called a scaffold, which is made of polymer fibres hundreds of times finer than a human hair, in place of a missing limb or damaged organ.


  • Stealing robes from a funeral scaffold is simply foolish for anyone to try, given all they've heard about the Sioux.

    Excerpt: Snow Mountain Passage by James Houston 2001

  • Aka DNA Staples that form a scaffold which guides and intricately folds the long strand like origami, hence the dub scaffold DNA Origami Now take Rothemund’s discovery add nearly two years and the power of IBM research and development.

    Self-assembled Nano-circuit boards with DNA Origami and Carbon Nanotubes 2008

  • Aka DNA Staples that form a scaffold which guides and intricately folds the long strand like origami, hence the dub scaffold DNA Origami Now take Rothemund’s discovery add nearly two years and the power of IBM research and development.

    Archive 2008-02-01 2008

  • A scaffold is a sense preadapted protein, although it is not in the biotechnological usage so called.

    Flagellum evolution -- how's your German? - The Panda's Thumb 2010

  • During the early years of his reign, the death penalty was as good as abolished, and the erection of a scaffold was a violence committed against the King.

    Les Miserables 2008

  • The scaffold is the accomplice of the executioner; it devours, it eats flesh, it drinks blood; the scaffold is a sort of monster fabricated by the judge and the carpenter, a spectre which seems to live with a horrible vitality composed of all the death which it has inflicted.

    Les Miserables 2008

  • On the scaffold were a group of educated, courageous, honest Italians, guarded by

    The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 04, No. 25, November, 1859 Various

  • On the platform of the scaffold was a conical-shaped block, enamelled in a brilliant red.

    The Mark of the Beast Sidney Watson


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