I. scale 1 S2 W2 /skeɪl/ BrE AmE noun
1 . SIZE/LEVEL [singular, uncountable] the size or level of something, or the amount that something is happening
We had underestimated the scale of the problem.
on a large/small/grand etc scale
There has been housing development on a massive scale since 1980.
Most alternative technologies work best on a small scale.
A structural survey revealed the full scale of the damage.
I was shocked by the sheer scale (=very big scale) of the destruction.
on a global/international/world scale
Pollution could cause changes to weather patterns on a global scale.
Large firms benefit from economies of scale (=ways of saving money because they are big) .
2 . RANGE [countable usually singular] a whole range of different types of people or things, from the lowest level to the highest:
Some rural schools have 50 pupils, while at the other end of the scale are city schools with nearly 5,000 pupils.
up/down the scale
She gradually made her way up the social scale.
animals which are lower down the evolutionary scale (=the range of animals that have developed gradually over a long time)
FOR WEIGHING scales [plural] British English , scale [countable] American English a machine for weighing people or objects:
a set of kitchen scales
some new bathroom scales (=scales that you use to weigh yourself)
⇨ tip the balance/scales at ↑ tip 2 (6)
4 . MEASURING SYSTEM [countable] a system of numbers that is used for measuring the amount, speed, quality etc of something
on a scale
The earthquakes measured 7 on the Richter scale.
changes to the company’s pay scale
Your performance will be judged on a scale of 1 to 10.
We use a sliding scale (=in which prices are not firmly fixed) for charges.
5 . MEASURING MARKS [countable] a set of marks with regular spaces between them on a tool that is used for measuring, or on the side of a mathematical drawing:
a ruler with a metric scale
6 . MAP/MODEL [uncountable and countable] the relationship between the size of a map, drawing, or model and the actual size of the place or thing that it represents:
a map with a scale of 1:250,000
All our models are made to scale.
scale model/drawing etc (=one done using a strict scale)
a scale drawing of the Eiffel Tower
7 . MUSIC [countable] a series of musical notes that become higher or lower, with fixed distances between each note:
the scale of G major
8 . FISH [countable usually plural] one of the small flat pieces of skin that cover the bodies of fish, snakes etc
9 . TEETH [uncountable] British English a white substance that forms on your teeth
10 . WATER PIPES [uncountable] a white substance that forms around the inside of hot water pipes or containers in which water is boiled
11 . the scales fell from sb’s eyes literary used to say that someone suddenly realized something important
⇨ ↑ full-scale
• • •
COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 1)
▪ on a large scale
This technology has been developed on a large scale in the US.
▪ on a massive/huge scale
The drug is produced on a massive scale.
▪ on a grand scale (=very large and impressive)
The Romans built on a grand scale.
▪ on a small scale
They started by producing and selling on a small scale.
▪ on a human scale (=one that is small enough for people to understand and be happy with)
Architects have been asked to redesign some of the buildings on a more human scale.
▪ on a national scale (=involving the whole country)
The survey was carried out on a national scale.
▪ on an international scale (=involving more than one country)
Preparations to deal with an outbreak of the disease are being made on an international scale.
▪ on a global/world scale (=involving the whole world)
This is a product that can be sold in high volumes on a global scale.
▪ on an unprecedented scale (=more than ever before)
Propaganda techniques were used on an unprecedented scale.
▪ economies of scale (=ways of saving money that are available to large organizations)
Merging these departments will create economies of scale.
▪ the full scale of something
He acknowledged that the full scale of the problem was not known.
▪ the sheer scale of something (=used for emphasis)
He was shocked by the sheer scale of the suffering he witnessed.
• • •
COLLOCATIONS (for Meanings 2 & 4)
▪ the top of a scale
At the top of the scale come the predators.
▪ the bottom of a scale
He started at the bottom of the pay scale.
▪ the end of a scale (=the top or bottom)
At the other end of the scale, the youngest competitor was just sixteen years old.
▪ further/higher up a scale
Peasants managed their land as skilfully as some people higher up the social scale.
▪ further/lower down a scale
Bonuses are not paid to people lower down the salary scale.
■ ADJECTIVES/NOUN + scale
▪ the social scale
At the other end of the social scale, life is a constant struggle to get enough to eat.
▪ the evolutionary scale (=the way in which animals have developed over time from simple ones to more complicated and more intelligent ones)
Birds are much lower on the evolutionary scale than dogs.
▪ a pay/salary scale
As a senior teacher, she has reached the top of her pay scale.
▪ move up/down a scale
Some farmers prospered and moved up the social scale.
II. scale 2 BrE AmE verb [transitive]
1 . to climb to the top of something that is high and difficult to climb:
Rescuers had to scale a 300-metre cliff to reach the injured climber.
2 . technical to make writing or a picture the right size for a particular purpose
scale something to something
The writing can be scaled to any size, depending on the paper.
3 . scale the heights to be extremely successful:
By the age of 21, he had already scaled the heights in the academic world.
scale something ↔ down/back phrasal verb
to reduce the amount or size of something ⇨ decrease :
The emergency aid programme has now been scaled down.
scale something ↔ up phrasal verb
to increase the amount or size of something:
Production at the factory is being scaled up.
• • •
▪ climb to move up, down, or across something using your hands and feet:
Most kids love climbing trees.
Several fans climbed onto the roof of the arena to get a better view.
She climbed down the ladder.
▪ ascend formal to climb up something:
He began to ascend the narrow winding staircase.
the first man to ascend Mount Everest
▪ go up to climb up something such as a slope or stairs:
He went up the steps to the platform.
Sonia was quiet as they went up the hill.
▪ scale formal to climb to the top of something such as a high wall or ↑ fence :
Somehow the men had scaled the twenty-foot wall without setting off the alarm.
Protestors scaled the walls of the building and hung banners.
Rescuers had to scale a one-thousand-foot cliff before they could reach the injured climber.
▪ clamber to climb somewhere with difficulty, using your hands to help you:
At last we saw the two girls clambering down the slope to safety.
Everyone clambered onto the back of the truck.
▪ scramble to climb somewhere quickly and with difficulty, using your hands to help you, especially when you are walking:
They scrambled up the steep rocky bank.