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

  • noun A very small amount; a modicum.
  • noun A small timber used in construction.
  • noun The dimensions of a building material, especially the width and thickness of a timber.
  • noun Nautical The dimensions of the structural parts of a vessel.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Scant; small.
  • noun A pattern; sample; specimen.
  • noun A rough draft; a rude sketch.
  • noun A measuring-rod.
  • noun Measurement; size; dimensions; compass; grade.
  • noun A small quantity, number, or amount; a modicum.
  • noun In naval architecture, the size in any case under consideration of some one of the principal parts of the hull of a ship, such as floors, frames, outside plating, etc.
  • noun In carpentry and stone-cutting, the size to which it is intended to cut timber or stone; the length, breadth, and thickness of a timber or stone.
  • noun A small beam less than five inches square in section, such as the quartering for a partition, rafters, purlins, or pole-plates in a roof, etc.
  • noun A kind of trestle or horse for supporting a cask.

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

  • noun obsolete, obsolete A fragment; a bit; a little piece.
  • noun obsolete A piece or quantity cut for a special purpose; a sample.
  • noun obsolete A small quantity; a little bit; not much.
  • noun A piece of timber sawed or cut of a small size, as for studs, rails, etc.
  • noun The dimensions of a piece of timber with regard to its breadth and thickness; hence, the measure or dimensions of anything.
  • noun A rough draught; a rude sketch or outline.
  • noun A frame for casks to lie upon; a trestle.
  • adjective obsolete Not plentiful; small; scanty.

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

  • noun The set size or dimension of a piece of timber, stone etc., or materials used to build ships or aircraft.
  • noun archaic A small portion, a scant amount.
  • noun A small, upright timber used in construction, especially less than five inches square.
  • noun obsolete A rough draught; a crude sketch or outline.
  • noun obsolete A frame for casks to lie upon; a trestle.

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

  • noun an upright in house framing


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

[Alteration of Middle English scantlon, scantilon, carpenter's gauge, from Old French escantillon, alteration of *eschandillon, from Late Latin *scandiculum, alteration of scandāculum, ladder, gauge, from Latin scandere, to climb; see skand- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Alteration of scantillon, by association with -ling. Later senses also influenced by similarity with scant.


  • Of learning long a scantling was the portion of the Gael, vol. v.,

    The Modern Scottish Minstrel, Volume VI The Songs of Scotland of the Past Half Century

  • Of learning long a scantling was the portion of the Gael,

    The Modern Scottish Minstrel, Volume V. The Songs of Scotland of the Past Half Century

  • The top of the shapeless bay into which this door shut was masked by a narrow scantling in the centre of which a triangular hole had been sawed, which served both as wicket and air-hole when the door was closed.

    Les Miserables

  • “And” (resumed Salih the Pious) “if we stood on our faces in thy service, O King of the Age, a thousand years, yet had we not the might to requite thee, and this were but a scantling of thy due.”

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • On the inside of the door the figures 52 had been traced with a couple of strokes of a brush dipped in ink, and above the scantling the same hand had daubed the number 50, so that one hesitated.

    Les Miserables

  • For, in this narrow scantling of capacity which we are accustomed to and sensible of here, wherein we enjoy but one pleasure at once, which, when all uneasiness is away, is, whilst it lasts, sufficient to make us think ourselves happy, it is not all remote and even apparent good that affects us.

    An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

  • The third are gratiosi, favorites; such as exceed not this scantling, to be solace to the sovereign, and harmless to the people.

    The Essays

  • The blood of the sergeant crept close to his fingers before the earth drank down these scantling rivulets and that spring dried up once and forever.

    Spirit Gate

  • Its time of flowers, and even of fruits, was over; but a scantling of apples enriched the trees; only a blossom here and there expanded pale and delicate amidst a knot of faded leaves.

    Shirley, by Charlotte Bronte

  • You have not got the scantling for the metal you carry and are always working.



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  • "...although the Norfolk could scarcely be compared with frigates like the President or the United States with their twenty-four-pounders and their line-of-battleship scantlings she would be a tough nut to crack."

    --Patrick O'Brian, The Far Side of the World, 87

    February 20, 2008

  • "... in shipbuilding, a name given to any piece of timber, with regard to its breadth and thickness when reduced to the standard size."

    Falconer's New Universal Dictionary of the Marine (1816), 434

    October 14, 2008

  • See also citation on gixy.

    October 30, 2008

  • "He sold cords of wood, timber trees, and products from his cooperage, including planking, lathing, clapboards, scantling, siding, heading, fence rails, fence posts, framing, and coffins."

    —Sarah Hand Meacham, Every Home a Distillery: Alcohol, Gender, and Technology in the Colonial Chesapeake (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009), 47

    June 9, 2010