Meaning of SCALE in English


I. ˈskāl, esp before pause or consonant -āəl noun

( -s )

Etymology: Middle English scale, scole, from Old Norse skāl bowl, scale of a balance; akin to Old High German scāla cup, bowl, scala husk, shell — more at shell

1. dialect : a drinking vessel : cup , bowl

offered him a scale of beer — Peter Abrahams


a. : either pan or tray of a balance

b. : balance 1a(1) — usually used in plural sometimes with pair

weighed on the only pair of scales in the hamlet — Flora Thompson

and sometimes sing. in constr.

weighing something on a big brass scales — Helen Eustis

c. : an instrument or machine for weighing

bathroom scale

counter scale

livestock scale

— often used in plural but sometimes sing. in constr.; see computing scale , cylinder scale , platform scale , spring scale


a. : the position where a grave decision (as for life or death) is called for or a turning point is imminent : balance — often used in plural

you never forget that your life, as well as his, is in the scales — E.L.Beach

b. : the process or situation in which something (as a force or set of values) is opposed to or contrasted with other like things or an established or assumed standard for such things

weight of his authority was thrown into the scale against the teachings — Harvey Graham

— usually used in plural

weighed his own life and the life of his neighbors in the scales — V.L.Parrington

rig the scales heavily in favor of the values you see the need of preserving — G.O.Williams

4. : weight , size — used especially of livestock

new breed is cherry red, possesses lots of scale — L.M.Winters

II. verb

( -ed/-ing/-s )

transitive verb


a. : to weigh in scales

b. obsolete : measure , compare

scaling his present bearing with his past — Shakespeare

2. : to make or to lay out so as to be of exact weight, quantity, or dimensions ; specifically : to divide into exact parts by weight

scale dough into loaves

intransitive verb

: to have a specified weight on scales

at 19 he scaled 12 stone — G.E.Odd

a dog scaling 50 pounds

— often used with in

man scaling in at over 200 pounds

III. noun

( -s )

Etymology: Middle English, from Old Norse skāli; akin to Old Norse skȳ cloud — more at sky

dialect chiefly England : hut

IV. verb

( -ed/-ing/-s )

Etymology: Middle English skailen, scalen, probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse skilja to separate, divide — more at skill

transitive verb

1. chiefly Scotland : disperse , scatter

scale a crowd

2. chiefly Scotland : to spread especially wastefully

3. chiefly Scotland : spill

scale her tea

intransitive verb

chiefly Scotland : disperse , scatter

V. noun

( -s )

Etymology: Middle English scale, skale, from Middle French escale, of Germanic origin; akin to Old English scealu husk, shell, scale of a balance — more at shell


a. : a small, more or less flattened, rigid, and definitely circumscribed plate forming part of the external body covering of an animal, in fishes consisting of dermal bony tissue, in recent forms being commonly in imbricated rows with their posterior edges partly overlapping, and in reptiles and on the legs of birds being horny, circumscribed, and slightly differentiated areas of the epidermis — see fish illustration

b. : any of various usually flattened and more or less chitinized outgrowths of the body wall of an insect (as those clothing the wings of most moths and butterflies)

c. : the scaly covering of a scaled animal : a coating of scales

d. : a plate of similar structure making up wool fiber and distinguishing it from hair

2. scales plural : impediments to seeing rightly

I hope in time the scales will be taken off the eyes of the landlord — William Ellis

3. : a small thin dry lamina shed (as in many skin diseases) from the skin

4. : a thin outer lamina or layer removable as a peel or in flakes or chips: as


(1) : a black scaly coating of oxide (as magnetic oxide) forming on the surface of iron when heated for processing (as by hammering or rolling) — called also iron scale, mill scale ; see hammer scale

(2) : a similar coating forming on other metals

b. : a film of tartar encrusting the teeth

c. : a hard incrustation that is deposited especially on the inside of a vessel (as a boiler) in which water is heated, that in the case of hard water commonly contains calcium sulfate as the principal component, and that is objectionable because it is a nonconductor of heat


a. : one of the modified leaves serving in most seed plants to protect a bud before expansion — see bud scale

b. : a thin, membranous, chaffy, or woody bract

the scale of an alder catkin

the cone scale of a pine

c. : ramentum 2a

d. : the small appendage at the base of the petal in some plants of the family Caryophyllaceae

e. : one of the disklike trichomes making up the characteristic silvery or scurfy pubescence of the foliage in some plants (as Russian olive)


a. : one of the small overlapping usually metal pieces forming the outer surface of scale armor

representations of Byzantine warriors nearly always show corselets of scales — J.G.Mann

b. scale armor

7. : either of the pieces fastened one on each side of the tang of a cutting instrument (as a knife) to form the outside of the handle


a. or scale insect also scale louse or scale bug : any of numerous small very prolific insects constituting Coccidae and related families of the suborder Homoptera, having young that suck the juices of plants, adult males that lack mouthparts and do not feed and have a single pair of wings, and adult females that are usually permanently attached to the host plant, structurally degenerate with most of the external differentiation lost, similar to a scale on the surface of the host, and often obscured by a waxy or powdery secretion that protects the female and her eggs, and including many extremely destructive pests of economic plants as well as a few that yield valuable products — compare cochineal , lac

b. : infestation with or disease caused by scale insects

our roses are full of scale this year

a promising citrus plantation had been destroyed by scale

9. : scale wax

VI. verb

( -ed/-ing/-s )

Etymology: Middle English scalen, from scale (V)

transitive verb


a. : to remove the scales from (as by scraping)

scale a fish

b. : to remove scale from

scale a boiler

c. : to take off the surface of : peel , husk

scale chestnuts

d. : to loosen and remove fragments from (as a rock surface)

scale a rock wall after blasting

2. : to take off in thin layers or scales : remove as if consisting of a scale : peel off especially in pieces

scale tartar from the teeth

— often used with off

scale off the bark of a tree

flames that scaled off the soft stone carvings of the interior — F.L.Paxson

3. obsolete : to clean (as the inside of a cannon) by the explosion of a small quantity of powder

4. : to form scale on : cover with scale

water scales a boiler

5. : to throw (as a thin flat stone) so that the edge cuts the air or so that it skips (as on a water surface) : skim , sail

took off his hat, scaled it across the room — Burt Arthur

scaled the letter … across the broad-topped walnut desk — Don Tracy

scaled the discus 194 feet 6 inches — New York Times

intransitive verb

1. : to separate and come off in thin layers or laminae : flake

some sandstone scales by exposure

— often used with off

bark that scales off readily

2. : to shed scales or fragmentary surface matter : exfoliate , spall

scaling skin

a scaling wall of rock

3. : to become encrusted with a hard deposit — used especially of vessels or pipes containing water or chemical solutions

VII. noun

( -s )

Etymology: Middle English, ladder, staircase, line marked by graduations, from Late Latin scala ladder, staircase, from Latin scalae (plural) stairs, rungs of a ladder, ladder; akin to Latin scandere to climb — more at scan



(1) : an indication of the relationship between the distances on a map, chart, or plan and the corresponding actual distances usually in the form of a direct statement (as 1 inch to 1 mile), a representative fraction (as 1/250,00or 1:250,000), a graphic measure (as a bar or line), or a line subdivided at selected intervals

(2) : a series of spaces marked off by lines or dots and used for measuring distances, amounts, or quantities

b. : a mathematical instrument consisting of a strip (as of wood, plastic, or metal) with one or more sets of spaces graduated and numbered on its surface and used especially for measuring or laying off distances and dimensions (as in drawing or plotting) — see architects' scale , engineer's scale ; compare rule

c. : a basis for a numeral system

the decimal scale

the binary scale

d. : one of the measures on a typewriter by which paper is aligned and centered, margin and tabulator stops set, or characters centered


a. obsolete : ladder

b. obsolete : a flight of stairs : staircase

c. archaic : a means of ascending or descending

in th' ascending scale of heav'n the stars that usher evening rose — John Milton


a. : a graduated series of musical tones ascending or descending in order of pitch according to a specified scheme of their intervals and varying in pitch arrangement and size of intervals according to the number of tones to the octave

descending scale

minor scale

major scale

b. : a scale on a given keynote

the scale of G

played the scale of D minor

c. : the compass of a voice or instrument

d. : the width of an organ pipe in proportion to its length that may be increased to give full and sonorous tones and decreased to give thin edgy tones

4. : a graduated or ordered series of degrees, stages, or classes : a scheme of comparative rank or order (as of forms of life)

the scale of being

a scale of taxation

color scale

a. : a set of graduated wage rates or a wage consistent with such rates

workmen were paid the union scale

b. : the full range of tones of a photographic material expressed in terms of the brightnesses recorded, the exposure given, or the resultant range of densities

c. : a table for calculating cost based on size

engravers' scale

electrotypers' scale


a. : 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 parts (as of a drawing or model) to the dimensions of the corresponding parts of the object that is represented

a map on a scale of an inch to a mile

b. : a distinctive relative size, extent, or degree

despite high- scale national employment — Current History

— often used with on

much of the artist's sculpture is on a large scale — Current Biography

printing color reproductions on a commercial scale — Encyc. Americana

gambling on a grand scale

6. : a standard for reference in estimating or judging

a scale to measure degrees of crime


a. : relative size of especially architectural parts as compared with the whole or with the human figure

importance of scale and detailing to the layout as a whole — Architectural Review

scale is produced by introducing into the design some unit which acts as a visual measuring rod — T.F.Hamlin

harmony of scale … in a room — Mildred J. O'Brien

b. : proper or intended size, proportion, and relationship with reference to other elements and to the whole or to the setting

the one essential to remember in carrying out the necessary periodic replanting in the park is scale — S.Lang

in our time, scale has survived splendor — Alfred Frankfurter

8. : a series of tests graded from easy to difficult or of performances graded from bad to good to be used in rating individual intellectual or emotional behavior or attitudes

rating scale

intelligence scale

achievement scale

- in scale

- out of scale

- to scale

VIII. verb

( -ed/-ing/-s )

Etymology: Middle English scalen, from scale, n., ladder

transitive verb


a. : to attack with or take by means of scaling ladders

scale a castle wall

scale a walled town

b. : to climb up or reach by means of a ladder

scaling the girl's bedchamber — E.A.Poe

firemen scaled the building

c. : to ascend or go over by climbing or as if by climbing : clamber up

scaling the mighty barrier of the Alps — G.F.Maclear

climbers scaled the mountain face

wildcats might scale the fence — Zane Grey

d. : to press one's way up into or over typically with or as if with strong flight

falcon scaling the sky

e. : to reach the highest point of or surmount typically with strong effort

scale the moral and esthetic heights in the novel — Lionel Trilling

2. : to treat according to a scale with gradation or in proportion:

a. : to arrange in a graduated series

scale a test

b. : to measure by or as if by a scale: as

(1) : to measure (logs) to ascertain the number of board feet

(2) : to estimate the yield of (standing timber) in board feet

c. : to pattern, make, regulate, set, or estimate according to some proportion, rate, standard, or control : increase or reduce according to a fixed ratio

a production schedule scaled to actual need

scale the prices of tickets for a theatrical performance

— often used with down or up

scale up imports

scale down the output of a mine

d. : to crop, reduce, or enlarge (as a pictorial illustration) to fit a given space or layout ; also : to determine the dimensions of (as an illustration) that will result from such scaling

intransitive verb

1. : to climb by or as if by a ladder

firemen given the command to scale

2. : to rise in a graduated series

windows scaling beside a stairway


a. : measure

this tree … probably scales no more than about 50 feet — Alexander Tewnion

b. of a log, tree, or stand of timber : to yield an estimated number of board feet

growth scales from forty to sixty thousand board feet an acre — Nature Magazine

4. : to sing or play a musical scale : rise high in pitch

high with the last line scaled her voice — Alfred Tennyson

Synonyms: see ascend

IX. noun

( -s )

Etymology: scale (VIII)

1. obsolete : escalade

2. : an estimate of the amount of sound lumber in logs or standing timber

X. adjective

Etymology: scale (VII)

: drawn or constructed to scale

scale map

scale drawing

scale model of an automobile

XI. noun

( -s )

Etymology: French or Italian; French escale, from Italian scala, ladder, landing place, from Late Latin, ladder, staircase — more at scale VII

obsolete : a landing place : port

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.