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scale Meaning, Definition & Usage

  1. noun an ordered reference standard
    scale of measurement; ordered series; graduated table.
    • judging on a scale of 1 to 10
  2. noun relative magnitude
    • they entertained on a grand scale
  3. noun the ratio between the size of something and a representation of it
    • the scale of the map
    • the scale of the model
  4. noun a specialized leaf or bract that protects a bud or catkin
    scale leaf.
  5. noun a thin flake of dead epidermis shed from the surface of the skin
    scurf; exfoliation.
  6. noun (music) a series of notes differing in pitch according to a specific scheme (usually within an octave)
    musical scale.
  7. noun a measuring instrument for weighing; shows amount of mass
    weighing machine.
  8. noun an indicator having a graduated sequence of marks
  9. noun a metal sheathing of uniform thickness (such as the shield attached to an artillery piece to protect the gunners)
    plate; shell.
  10. noun a flattened rigid plate forming part of the body covering of many animals
  11. verb measure by or as if by a scale
    • This bike scales only 25 pounds
  12. verb pattern, make, regulate, set, measure, or estimate according to some rate or standard
  13. verb take by attacking with scaling ladders
    • The troops scaled the walls of the fort
  14. verb reach the highest point of
    • We scaled the Mont Blanc
  15. verb climb up by means of a ladder
  16. verb remove the scales from
    • scale fish
  17. verb measure with or as if with scales
    • scale the gold
  18. verb size or measure according to a scale
    • This model must be scaled down

Scale noun
AS. scale; perhaps influenced by the kindred Icel. skal balance, dish, akin also to D. schaal a scale, bowl, shell, G. schale, OHG. scala, Dan. skaal drinking cup, bowl, dish, and perh. to E. scale of a fish. Cf. Scale of a fish, Skull the brain case.
  1. The dish of a balance; hence, the balance itself; an instrument or machine for weighing; as, to turn the scale; -- chiefly used in the plural when applied to the whole instrument or apparatus for weighing. Also used figuratively.
    Long time in even scale The battle hung. Milton.
    The scales are turned; her kindness weighs no more Now than my vows. Waller.
  2. (Astron.) The sign or constellation Libra.
Scale transitive verb
imperfect & past participle Scaled ; present participle & verbal noun Scaling
  1. To weigh or measure according to a scale; to measure; also, to grade or vary according to a scale or system.
    Scaling his present bearing with his past. Shak.
Scale noun
Cf. AS. scealu, scalu, a shell, parings; akin to D. schaal, G. schale, OHG. scala, Dan. & Sw. skal a shell, Dan. skiæl a fish scale, Goth. skalja tile, and E. shale, shell, and perhaps also to scale of a balance; butperhaps rather fr. OF. escale, escaile, F. écaille scale of a fish, and écale shell of beans, pease, egs, nuts, of German origin, and akin to Goth. skalja, G. schale. See Shale.
  1. (Anat.) 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.
    Fish that, with their fins and shining scales, Glide under the green wave. Milton.
  2. Hence, any layer or leaf of metal or other material, resembling in size and thinness the scale of a fish; as, a scale of iron, of bone, etc.
  3. (Zoöl.) 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.
  4. (Zoöl.) A scale insect. (See below.)
  5. (Bot.) A small appendage like a rudimentary leaf, resembling the scales of a fish in form, and often in arrangement; as, the scale of a bud, of a pine cone, and the like. The name is also given to the chaff on the stems of ferns.
  6. The thin metallic side plate of the handle of a pocketknife. See Illust. of Pocketknife.
  7. An incrustation deposit on the inside of a vessel in which water is heated, as a steam boiler.
  8. (Metal.) The thin oxide which forms on the surface of iron forgings. It consists esentially of the magnetic oxide, Fe3O4. Also, a similar coating upon other metals.
Scale transitive verb
  1. To strip or clear of scale or scales; as, to scale a fish; to scale the inside of a boiler.
  2. To take off in thin layers or scales, as tartar from the teeth; to pare off, as a surface. "If all the mountaines were scaled, and the earth made even." T. Burnet.
  3. To scatter; to spread. Scot. & Prov. Eng.
  4. (Gun.) To clean, as the inside of a cannon, by the explosion of a small quantity of powder. Totten.
Scale intransitive verb
  1. To separate and come off in thin layers or laminæ; as, some sandstone scales by exposure.
    Those that cast their shell are the lobster and crab; the old skins are found, but the old shells never; so it is likely that they scale off. Bacon.
  2. To separate; to scatter. Scot. & Prov. Eng.
Scale noun
L. scalae, pl., scala staircase, ladder; akin to scandere to climb. See Scan; cf. Escalade.
  1. A ladder; a series of steps; a means of ascending. Obs.
  2. Hence, anything graduated, especially when employed as a measure or rule, or marked by lines at regular intervals. Specifically: (a) 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. (b) A series of spaces marked by lines, and representing proportionately larger distances; as, a scale of miles, yards, feet, etc., for a map or plan. (c) A basis for a numeral system; as, the decimal scale; the binary scale, etc. (d) (Mus.) 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.
  3. Gradation; succession of ascending and descending steps and degrees; progressive series; scheme of comparative rank or order; as, a scale of being.
    There is a certain scale of duties . . . which for want of studying in right order, all the world is in confusion. Milton.
  4. 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; as, a map on a scale of an inch to a mile.
Scale transitive verb
Cf. It. scalare, fr. L. scale, scala. See Scale a ladder.
  1. To climb by a ladder, or as if by a ladder; to ascend by steps or by climbing; to clamber up; as, to scale the wall of a fort.
    Oft have I scaled the craggy oak. Spenser.
Scale intransitive verb
  1. To lead up by steps; to ascend. Obs.
    Satan from hence, now on the lower stair, That scaled by steps of gold to heaven-gate, Looks down with wonder. Milton.

Webster 1913