AskDefine | Define scale

Dictionary Definition



1 an ordered reference standard; "judging on a scale of 1 to 10" [syn: scale of measurement, graduated table, ordered series]
2 relative magnitude; "they entertained on a grand scale"
3 the ratio between the size of something and a representation of it; "the scale of the map"; "the scale of the model"
4 an indicator having a graduated sequence of marks
5 a specialized leaf or bract that protects a bud or catkin [syn: scale leaf]
6 a thin flake of dead epidermis shed from the surface of the skin [syn: scurf, exfoliation]
7 (music) a series of notes differing in pitch according to a specific scheme (usually within an octave) [syn: musical scale]
8 a measuring instrument for weighing; shows amount of mass [syn: weighing machine]
9 a metal sheathing of uniform thickness (such as the shield attached to an artillery piece to protect the gunners) [syn: plate, shell]
10 a flattened rigid plate forming part of the body covering of many animals


1 measure by or as if by a scale; "This bike scales only 25 pounds"
2 pattern, make, regulate, set, measure, or estimate according to some rate or standard
3 take by attacking with scaling ladders; "The troops scaled the walls of the fort"
4 reach the highest point of; "We scaled the Mont Blanc" [syn: surmount]
5 climb up by means of a ladder
6 remove the scales from; "scale fish" [syn: descale]
7 measure with or as if with scales; "scale the gold"
8 size or measure according to a scale; "This model must be scaled down"

User Contributed Dictionary


Etymology 1

Latin scalae



  1. An ordered numerical sequence used for measurement.
    Please rate your experience on a scale from 1 to 10.
  2. Size; scope.
    The Holocaust was insanity on an enormous scale.
  3. The ratio of depicted distance to actual distance.
    This map uses a scale of 1:10.
  4. A means of assigning a magnitude.
    The magnitude of an earthquake is measured on the open-ended Richter scale.
  5. A series of notes spanning an octave, tritave, or pseudo-octave, used to make melodies.
Related terms
ordered numerical sequence
size or scope
ratio of distances
assigning a magnitude
  • Czech: stupnice
  • Dutch: schaal
  • Finnish: asteikko
  • French: échelle
  • German: Skala
  • Japanese: 強度, 等級
  • Polish: skala
  • Serbian: stupnice
  • Slovak: škála
  • Swedish: skala
  • Telugu: కొలత (kolata), ప్రమాణము (pramaaNamu)
series of notes
  • Czech: stupnice
  • Dutch: toonladder
  • Finnish: asteikko, sävelasteikko, skaala
  • French: échelle, gamme
  • German: Tonleiter
  • Japanese: 音階, スケール
  • Swedish: skala


  1. To change the size of, maintaining proportion.
    We should scale that up by a factor of 10.
  2. To climb.
    Hilary and Norgay were the first known to have scaled Everest.
  3. (computing) To tolerate significant increases in throughput or other potentially limiting factors.
    That architecture won't scale to real-world environments.
Related terms
change size of
  • Finnish: kiivetä, kivuta
  • French: escalader
  • German: besteigen, erklimmen
  • Japanese: 登る
  • Swedish: bestiga
tolerate increases in throughput
  • Finnish: skaalautua
  • Japanese: 見合う
  • Polish: skalować się

Etymology 2

Old French escale (French écale), "husk", "chip"; Old High German scala.


  1. Part of an overlapping arrangement of many small, flat and hard pieces of keratin covering the skin of an animal, particularly a fish or reptile.
  2. A small piece of pigmented chitin, many of which coat the wings of a butterfly or moth to give them their color.
  3. A flake of skin of an animal afflicted with dermatitis.
  4. A pine nut of a pinecone.
  5. The flaky material sloughed off heated metal.
  6. Scale mail (as opposed to chain mail).
  7. Limescale
keratin pieces covering the skin of certain animals
coloured chitin
  • Finnish: suomu
  • French: écaille
  • Japanese: 鱗片
flake of skin
  • French: squame
  • German: Schuppe
pine nut
  • French: écaille
  • Japanese: 鱗片
Flaky material sloughed off heated metal
  • French: barbure
scale mail


  1. To remove the scales of.
    Please scale that fish for dinner.
  2. (intansitive) To become scaly; to produce or develop scales.
    The dry weather is making my skin scale.
remove the scales of
  • French: écailler
  • German: entschuppen
  • Japanese: 鱗を落とす, 鱗を除く
  • Swedish: fjälla
become scaly
  • German: schuppen
  • Japanese: ガサガサにする, 肌荒れを起こす
  • Swedish: fjälla

Etymology 3

Old Norse skal, "bowl". Confer Old English scealu, "cup", "shell"; Dutch schaal; German Schale; Old High German scāla; Gothic skalja. Cognate with scale, as in Etymology 2.


  1. A device to measure mass or weight.
    After the long, lazy winter I was afraid to get on the scale.
  2. Either of the pans, trays, or dishes of a balance.
dish of a balance
  • Bosnian: tas
  • French: plateau (d'une balance )
  • German: Waagschale
  • Japanese: 秤, 天秤
  • Serbian:
    Cyrillic: тас
    Roman: tas



  1. Plural of scala

Extensive Definition

Scale can refer to:
scale in Czech: Stupnice
scale in Danish: Skala
scale in German: Schuppe
scale in Spanish: Escala
scale in French: Échelle (mesure)
scale in Galician: Escala
scale in Ido: Skalo
scale in Japanese: スケール
scale in Lithuanian: Skalė
scale in Dutch: Schaal
scale in Norwegian: Skala
scale in Polish: Skala
scale in Portuguese: Escala
scale in Russian: Шкала
scale in Finnish: Asteikko

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Danish balance, Indian file, Lambert conformal projection, Mercator projection, Miller projection, Roman balance, Weightometer, accommodation ladder, adjust, aeronautical chart, alloy balance, amount, amplitude, analytical balance, area, arrange in layers, array, articulation, ascend, assay balance, astronomical chart, atlas, azimuthal equidistant projection, azimuthal projection, balance, balance of precision, bank, barometer, barrel scale, beam, bigness, board, body, breach, breadth, break, breakage, bulk, bullion balance, burst, bust, buzz, cake, caking, caliber, calibration, canon, carry, cartographer, cartography, catena, catenation, celestial chart, celestial globe, chain, chain reaction, chaining, chart, check, chip, chip off, chorographer, chorography, chromatic scale, clamber, clamber up, cleft, climatic chart, climb, climb over, climb up, coat, coating, compass, concatenation, conic projection, connection, consecution, continuum, contour line, contour map, counter scale, course, coverage, crack, criterion, crust, cut, cycle, cylinder scale, cylindrical projection, dandruff, decorticate, decrease, degree, delaminate, depth, descent, desquamate, diameter, diapason, dimension, dimensions, diminish, dodecuple scale, doorstep, drone, drum scale, enamel, encrustation, endless belt, endless round, enharmonic scale, enlarge, escalade, escalate, eschar, exfoliate, expanse, expansion, extension, extension ladder, extent, facing, fan scale, file, filiation, film, fissure, flake, flake off, flexure plate scale, floccule, flocculus, flock, folding ladder, footrest, footstep, foray, fracture, fur, gamut, gangway ladder, gap, gauge, general reference map, girth, globe, gnomonic projection, go up, gradation, grade, graduated scale, graduation, graphic scale, great scale, greatness, grid line, hachure, height, heliographic chart, hierarchy, hum, hydrographic chart, imbrication, increase, incrustation, index, inroad, interval, inundate, invade, isoline, lacquer, ladder, lamella, lamina, laminate, largeness, latitude, lay down, lay up, layer, layer tint, leap, legend, length, level, lever scales, line, lineage, long-arm balance, longitude, lower, magnitude, major scale, make a raid, make an inroad, map, map maker, map projection, mapper, mark, mass, measure, measurement, melodic minor, meridian, minor scale, model, monotone, mount, nexus, norm, notch, nuance, octave scale, overlay, overwhelm, paint, pair of scales, parallel, parameter, paring, pas, pastry shell, pattern, peel, peg, pellicle, pendulum, pentatonic scale, period, periodicity, photogrammetrist, photogrammetry, photomap, phototopography, physical map, piecrust, pitch, plane, plaque, plate, plate fulcrum scale, plateau, platform scale, plenum, point, political map, polyconic projection, powder train, precision balance, precision scale, progression, projection, proportion, proportions, prorate, quantity, quarter ladder, queue, radius, raid, raise, ramp, range, rank, ranking, rate, ratio, reach, reading, readout, recurrence, reduce, register, regulate, relief map, remove, rent, representative fraction, rest, reticulation, revetment, rift, rip, riser, road map, rotation, round, routine, row, rule, run, rundle, rung, rupture, scab, scale off, scale the heights, scale the walls, scales, scope, scrabble up, scramble up, scum, scurf, scute, scutum, sequence, series, shade, shadow, shaving, shell, shin, shin up, shinny, short-arm balance, single file, sinusoidal projection, size, skin, slash, slice, slit, snap, space, special map, spectrum, spiral balance, splinter, split, spoke, spread, stair, stalactite, stalagmite, standard, stave, step, step stool, stepladder, stepping-stone, stern ladder, stint, storm, stratify, stretch, string, strip, struggle up, succession, surmount, swath, sweep, take by storm, tartar, tear, temperament, terrain map, terrestrial globe, test, thematic map, thread, tier, topographer, topographic chart, topography, touchstone, train, transportation map, tread, tuning, type, upclimb, upgo, value, varnish, veneer, volume, weather chart, weather map, weigh scales, weighbridge, weighing machine, weight voltameter, whole-tone scale, width, windrow, yardstick
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