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

  • n. One of the many small platelike dermal or epidermal structures that characteristically form the external covering of fishes, reptiles, and certain mammals.
  • n. A similar part, such as one of the minute structures overlapping to form the covering on the wings of butterflies and moths.
  • n. Pathology A dry thin flake of epidermis shed from the skin.
  • n. A small thin piece.
  • n. Botany A small, thin, usually dry, often appressed plant structure, such as any of the protective leaves that cover a tree bud or the bract that subtends a flower in a sedge spikelet.
  • n. A scale insect.
  • n. A plant disease or infestation caused by scale insects.
  • n. A flaky oxide film formed on a metal, as on iron, that has been heated to high temperatures.
  • n. A flake of rust.
  • n. A hard mineral coating that forms on the inside surface of boilers, kettles, and other containers in which water is repeatedly heated.
  • transitive v. To clear or strip of scale or scales: Scale and clean the fish.
  • transitive v. To remove in layers or scales: scaled off the old paint.
  • transitive v. To cover with scales; encrust.
  • transitive v. To throw (a thin flat object) so that it soars through the air or skips along the surface of water.
  • transitive v. Dentistry To remove (tartar) from tooth surfaces with a pointed instrument.
  • transitive v. Australian To cheat; swindle.
  • transitive v. Australian To ride on (a tram or train, for example) without paying the fare.
  • intransitive v. To come off in scales or layers; flake.
  • intransitive v. To become encrusted.
  • n. A system of ordered marks at fixed intervals used as a reference standard in measurement: a ruler with scales in inches and centimeters.
  • n. An instrument or device bearing such marks.
  • n. A standard of measurement or judgment; a criterion.
  • n. A proportion used in determining the dimensional relationship of a representation to that which it represents: a world map with a scale of 1:4,560,000.
  • n. A calibrated line, as on a map or an architectural plan, indicating such a proportion.
  • n. Proper proportion: a house that seemed out of scale with its surroundings.
  • n. A progressive classification, as of size, amount, importance, or rank: judging divers' performances on a scale of 1 to 10.
  • n. A relative level or degree: entertained on a lavish scale.
  • n. A minimum wage fixed by contract: musicians playing a benefit concert for scale.
  • n. Mathematics A system of notation in which the values of numerical expressions are determined by their places relative to the chosen base of the system: the decimal scale.
  • n. Music An ascending or descending collection of pitches proceeding by a specified scheme of intervals.
  • transitive v. To climb up or over; ascend: scaled the peak.
  • transitive v. To make in accord with a particular proportion or scale: Scale the model to be one tenth of actual size.
  • transitive v. To alter according to a standard or by degrees; adjust in calculated amounts: scaled down their demands; scaled back the scheduled pay increase.
  • transitive v. To estimate or measure the quantity of lumber in (logs or uncut trees).
  • intransitive v. To climb; ascend.
  • intransitive v. To rise in steps or stages.
  • n. An instrument or machine for weighing. Often used in the plural.
  • n. Either of the pans, trays, or dishes of a balance.
  • transitive v. To weigh with scales.
  • intransitive v. To have a given weight, as determined by a scale: cargo that scales 14 metric tons.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An ordered numerical sequence used for measurement.
  • n. Size; scope.
  • n. The ratio of depicted distance to actual distance.
  • n. A line or bar associated with a drawing, used to indicate measurement when the image has been magnified or reduced
  • n. A means of assigning a magnitude.
  • n. A series of notes spanning an octave, tritave, or pseudo-octave, used to make melodies.
  • v. To change the size of something whilst maintaining proportion; especially to change a process in order to produce much larger amounts of the final product.
  • v. To climb to the top of.
  • v. To tolerate significant increases in throughput or other potentially limiting factors.
  • n. Part of an overlapping arrangement of many small, flat and hard pieces of keratin covering the skin of an animal, particularly a fish or reptile.
  • n. A small piece of pigmented chitin, many of which coat the wings of a butterfly or moth to give them their color.
  • n. A flake of skin of an animal afflicted with dermatitis.
  • n. A pine nut of a pinecone.
  • n. The flaky material sloughed off heated metal.
  • n. Scale mail (as opposed to chain mail).
  • n. Limescale
  • n. A scale insect
  • v. To remove the scales of.
  • v. To become scaly; to produce or develop scales.
  • n. A device to measure mass or weight.
  • n. Either of the pans, trays, or dishes of a balance or scales.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The dish of a balance; hence, the balance itself; an instrument or machine for weighing; ; -- chiefly used in the plural when applied to the whole instrument or apparatus for weighing. Also used figuratively.
  • n. The sign or constellation Libra.
  • n. One of the small, thin, membranous, bony or horny pieces which form the covering of many fishes and reptiles, and some mammals, belonging to the dermal part of the skeleton, or dermoskeleton. See cycloid, ctenoid, and ganoid.
  • n. Hence, any layer or leaf of metal or other material, resembling in size and thinness the scale of a fish
  • n. One of the small scalelike structures covering parts of some invertebrates, as those on the wings of Lepidoptera and on the body of Thysanura; the elytra of certain annelids. See Lepidoptera.
  • n. A scale insect. (See below.)
  • n. A small appendage like a rudimentary leaf, resembling the scales of a fish in form, and often in arrangement. The name is also given to the chaff on the stems of ferns.
  • n. The thin metallic side plate of the handle of a pocketknife. See Illust. of Pocketknife.
  • n. An incrustation deposit on the inside of a vessel in which water is heated, as a steam boiler.
  • n. The thin oxide which forms on the surface of iron forgings. It consists essentially of the magnetic oxide, Fe3O4. Also, a similar coating upon other metals.
  • n. A ladder; a series of steps; a means of ascending.
  • n. Hence, anything graduated, especially when employed as a measure or rule, or marked by lines at regular intervals.
  • n. A mathematical instrument, consisting of a slip of wood, ivory, or metal, with one or more sets of spaces graduated and numbered on its surface, for measuring or laying off distances, etc., as in drawing, plotting, and the like. See Gunter's scale.
  • n. A series of spaces marked by lines, and representing proportionately larger distances.
  • n. A basis for a numeral system
  • n. The graduated series of all the tones, ascending or descending, from the keynote to its octave; -- called also the gamut. It may be repeated through any number of octaves. See Chromatic scale, Diatonic scale, Major scale, and Minor scale, under Chromatic, Diatonic, Major, and Minor.
  • n. Gradation; succession of ascending and descending steps and degrees; progressive series; scheme of comparative rank or order.
  • n. Relative dimensions, without difference in proportion of parts; size or degree of the parts or components in any complex thing, compared with other like things; especially, the relative proportion of the linear dimensions of the parts of a drawing, map, model, etc., to the dimensions of the corresponding parts of the object that is represented.
  • intransitive v. To separate and come off in thin layers or laminæ.
  • intransitive v. To separate; to scatter.
  • intransitive v. To lead up by steps; to ascend.
  • transitive v. To weigh or measure according to a scale; to measure; also, to grade or vary according to a scale or system.
  • transitive v. To strip or clear of scale or scales.
  • transitive v. To take off in thin layers or scales, as tartar from the teeth; to pare off, as a surface.
  • transitive v. To scatter; to spread.
  • transitive v. To clean, as the inside of a cannon, by the explosion of a small quantity of powder.
  • transitive v. To climb by a ladder, or as if by a ladder; to ascend by steps or by climbing; to clamber up.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To deprive of scales, as a fish.
  • To peel; husk; shell: as, to scale almonds.
  • To pare down or off; shave or reduce, as a surface.
  • In metallurgy, to get rid of the scale or film of oxid formed on the surface of (a metal), as of iron plates, in order to obtain a clean surface for tinning.
  • To clean (the inside of a cannon) by firing off a small quantity of powder.
  • To cause to separate; disperse; scatter: as, to scale a crowd.
  • To spill: as, to scale salt; to scale water.
  • To spread, as manure or some loose substance.
  • To separate and come off in thin layers or laminæ; become reduced by the separation or loss of surface scales or flakes.
  • To separate; break up; disperse; scatter.
  • To weigh in or as in scales; measure; compare; estimate.
  • To weigh; have a weight of: as, the fish scaled seven pounds.
  • To make of the proper or exact weight: as, a scaled pottle of wine.
  • To climb by or as by a ladder; ascend by steps; in general, to clamber up.
  • To draw, project, or make according to scale; represent in true proportions.
  • In lumbering, to measure (logs), or estimate the amount of (standing timber).
  • To cut down or decrease proportionally in every part; decrease or reduce according to a fixed scale or proportion: sometimes with down: as, to scale wages; to scale a debt or an appropriation.
  • To afford an ascent, as a ladder or stairs; lead up by steps or stairs.
  • To cover with a crust or deposit: as, this water scales the boiler or the kettle.
  • To become crusted with a deposit from the feed-water: said of a boiler or other evaporating-vessel.
  • n. A husk, shell, pod, or other thin covering of a seed or fruit, as of the bean.
  • n. ln botany, a small rudimentary or thin scarious body, usually a metamorphosed leaf, scale-like in form and often in arrangement, constituting the covering of the leaf-buds of deciduous trees in cold climates, the involucre of the Compositæ, the bracts of the catkin, the imbricated and thickened leaves which constitute the bulb, and the like. Also applied in the Coniferæ to the leaves or bracts of the cone, and to the chaff on the stems of ferns. See also cuts under imbricate and rosin-plant.
  • n. In zoology, an epidermal or exoskeletal structure that is thin, flat, hard or dry, and of some definite extent; a piece of cuticle that is squamous, scaly, or horny, and does not constitute a hair, a feather, or a horn, hoof, nail, or claw; a squama; a scute; a scutellum.
  • n. Something like or likened to a scale; something desquamated or exfoliated; a flake; a shell; a scab.
  • n. Specifically— A thin plate of bone; a scale-like or shell-like bone: as, the human lacrymal bone is a mere scale; the squamosal is a thin scale of bone.
  • n. A part of the periostracum, or epidermal covering of the shell of a mollusk.
  • n. One of the broad flat structures, or hemielytra, which cover some annelids, as the scalebacks, with a kind of defensive armor.
  • n. In entomology: One of the minute structures which constitute the covering of the wings of lepidopterous insects, as the furriness of a butterfly or moth. These are modified hairs which when well developed are thin, fiat plates, pointed at the end where they are attached to the surface and generally divided into a number of long teeth at the other end; they are set in rows overlapping each other slightly, like tiles or shingles on a roof. These scales are ornamented with microscopic lines, and are of various and often very bright colors. By covering the transparent membrane of the wings they form the beautiful patterns much admired in these insects. See cut in next column, and cut under Lepidoptera. One of the plates, somewhat similar to those on a butterfly's wing, covering the bodies of most Thysanura (Lepismatidæ, Poduridæ). One of the little flakes which, scattered singly or close together, so as to cover the whole surface in a uniform manner, ornament the bodies and wing-covers of many beetles, especially species of Curculionidæ. These scales are frequently mingled with hairs; they are often metallic and very beautifully colored. One of the rndimentary wings of some insects, as fleas, or some similar process or formation on the thorax: as, the covering scale, the operculum or tegula of various insects. See tegula. The shield covering the body of most female scale-insects (Coccidæ), and subsequently, when the insect dies and shrivels up, serving to protect the eggs and young which are concealed beneath it. (See accompanying cut.) It is formed either by an exudation from the body of the female, or by her cast-off larva-skins cemented together. Hence— A coccid; a scale-insect: as, the barnacle scale, Ceroplastes cirripediformis, common in Florida. See cuts under coccus, cochineal, and scale-insect. A vertical dilatation of the petiole of the abdomen, found in some ants. Also called nodus or node.
  • n. One of the large hard scabs which form in some diseases of the human skin.
  • n. One of the metal plates which form the sides of the frame of a pocket-knife, and to which the outer part, of ivory or other material, is riveted.
  • n. The crust of oxid formed on the surface of a metal heated with exposure to the air: used chiefly with reference to iron, as in the terms mill-scale, hammer-scale, etc.
  • n. A bowl; a cup.
  • n. The bowl or dish of a balance; hence, the balance itself, or the whole instrument: as, to turn the scale: generally used in the plural when applied to the whole instrument.
  • n. plural [capitalized] The sign of the Balance, or Libra, in the zodiac.
  • n. A ladder; a flight of steps; anything by means of which one may ascend.
  • n. A series of marks laid down at determinate distances along a line, for purposes of measurement and computation; also, the rule upon which one or more such series are laid down.
  • n. In music: A definite and standard series of tones within some large limiting interval, like an octave, selected for artistic purposes.
  • n. Any particular scale based upon a given key-note: as, the scale of G or of F.
  • n. Of a voice or an instrument, same as compass, 5.
  • n. In an organ-pipe, the ratio between its width and its length: a broad scale producing full, sonorous tones, as in the open diapason; and a narrow scale, thin, string-like tones, as in the dulciana.
  • n. Succession of ascending or descending steps or degrees; progressive series; scheme of comparative rank or order; gradation.
  • n. A system of proportion by which definite magnitudes represent definite magnitudes, in a sculpture, picture, map, and the like; also. a system of proportion for taxation or other purpose.
  • n. A system of numeration or numerical notation.
  • n. Any graded system of terms, shades, tints, sounds, etc., by reference to which the degree, intensity, or quality of a phenomenon or sense-perception may be estimated.
  • n. The act of storming a place by mounting the walls on ladders; an escalade or scalade.
  • n. An incrustation on the inside of a boiler or other vessel in which water is evaporated which contains in solution salts which are precipitated by heat. These salts are usually present in solution as compounds rich in carbonic acid, such as the acid carbonates of lime and magnesia, or as sulphates or silicates. The carbonates lose one atom of CO2 on boiling and become insoluble protocarbonates, and the sulphates are less soluble in hot water than in cold. Such scale causes local overheating and injury to the metal of the vessel, retards the transfer of heat to the water to be evaporated, and clogs up waterways.
  • n. Weight: an abbreviation of scale weight.
  • n. A form of scales in which the usual knife-edge fulcrums are replaced by flat bands, the loads twisting these bands through a small angle, quite within their elastic limit of stress. Such fulcrums are frictionless, or the molecular distortion is not variable with applied load.
  • n. In graphics, the ratio of the lines of the drawing to those of the object. Thus, if six inches on the drawing represent one foot on the object the scale is one half, variously indicated: as, Scale ½ Scale 1:2; Scale 6 in. = 1 ft.; Scale 6″ = 1′ .
  • n. All the numbers but three in the table for heavy liquids contain errors of 1, 2, 3, or 5 units in the third decimal place, but since the table has been adopted by the chief users of this hydrometer it is given as so used; but the correct figures are added within brackets. Instruments, however, are likely to be graduated according to the correct figures.

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

  • n. a metal sheathing of uniform thickness (such as the shield attached to an artillery piece to protect the gunners)
  • v. remove the scales from
  • v. climb up by means of a ladder
  • n. an indicator having a graduated sequence of marks
  • n. a thin flake of dead epidermis shed from the surface of the skin
  • n. the ratio between the size of something and a representation of it
  • v. measure by or as if by a scale
  • n. a measuring instrument for weighing; shows amount of mass
  • n. an ordered reference standard
  • v. pattern, make, regulate, set, measure, or estimate according to some rate or standard
  • n. (music) a series of notes differing in pitch according to a specific scheme (usually within an octave)
  • v. size or measure according to a scale
  • n. a flattened rigid plate forming part of the body covering of many animals
  • v. measure with or as if with scales
  • v. take by attacking with scaling ladders
  • n. a specialized leaf or bract that protects a bud or catkin
  • v. reach the highest point of
  • n. relative magnitude


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

Middle English, from Old French escale, of Germanic origin.
Middle English, from Latin scālae, ladder.
Middle English, bowl, balance, from Old Norse skāl.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin scāla, usually in plural scālae ("a flight of steps, stairs, staircase, ladder"), for *scadla, from scandere ("to climb"); see scan, ascend, descend, etc.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English scale, from Old English scealu ("a scale, husk"), Old High German scāla; compare Old French escale ("husk, chip"), French écale, Italian scaglia.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old Norse skál ("bowl"). Compare Danish skål ("bowl, cup"), Dutch schaal; German Schale; Old High German scāla; Gothic skalja, Old English scealu ("cup", "shell"). Cognate with scale, as in Etymology 2.


  • For example: ten spaces on the vernier being made equal to nine on the scale, each vernier space is one tenth less than a scale space; and if the first line or division of the vernier agree exactly with any line of the scale, the next line of the vernier must be one tenth of a tenth (or one hundredth) of an inch from agreement with the next _scale_ division; the following vernier line must be two hundredths out, and so on: therefore, the number of such differences (from the next tenth on the scale) at which a vernier line agrees with a scale line, when set, is the number of hundredths to be added to the said tenth; (in a common barometer, reading only to hundredths of an inch).

    Barometer and Weather Guide

  • But until then, the pain scale is all we have and should be used for legal purposes.

    Matthew Yglesias » Marc Thiessen: Obama is Too Good at Killing Terrorists

  • The set, smaller in scale, is a progressively decaying wonder that is intact as is La Follie's megalomaniacal attention-grabbing theatrics.

    Archive 2007-08-01

  • However, as I began this part of the argument with, the century time scale is short for chaotic transitions in something as highly inertial as the climate system, and it is quite non-chaotic, and in a sense boring and predictable, when you only run these models 100 years.

    Exponential Growth in Physical Systems « Climate Audit

  • Conducting a referendum on this scale is a huge challenge and will take a lot of planning and time - which is rapidly running out.

    Louis Belanger: Time running out on Sudan as Security Council visits

  • The other scale is the growing unity of conservatism … not necessarily republicans, but those that want, in summary, for America to remain America … complete with traditional ways of life, values, and morals ….

    Cheney says GOP presidential bench still strong

  • Another advatage to this scale is the technique of avoiding textual analysis of a hymn or anthem.

    Introducing the Church Music Insipidness Scale

  • One of the beauties of using a scale is being able to sub without worrying about the potential differences in volume -- I just zeroed out my scale, added the whole wheat pastry flour to 100 g and then finished it with cake flour, to reach the total of 227 g.

    Sunday Brunch Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes

  • If my scale is accurate (and there is much debate about that) I'm down to 157, and, frankly, I haven't seen the upper/middle range of 150 in a long, long, LONG time.

    Day in the Life of an Idiot

  • The 8.5 x 11 size has good detail and the scale is the same throughout.

    2 routes between Queretaro and Puebla on motorcycle


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  • First a mother bathes her child, then the other way around

    The scales always find a way to level out.

    (If the brakeman turns my way, by Bright Eyes)

    October 15, 2009