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

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Scant; small.
  • n. A pattern; sample; specimen.
  • n. A rough draft; a rude sketch.
  • n. A measuring-rod.
  • n. Measurement; size; dimensions; compass; grade.
  • n. A small quantity, number, or amount; a modicum.
  • n. 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.
  • n. 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.
  • n. 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.
  • n. A kind of trestle or horse for supporting a cask.

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

  • n. an upright in house framing


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.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Alteration of scantillon, by association with -ling. Later senses also influenced by similarity with scant. (Wiktionary)


  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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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  • "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

  • See also citation on gixy.

    October 30, 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

  • "...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