A scale is a series that climbs up or down. Think of scaling, or climbing, a mountain; a musical scale: do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do; or a scale you weigh yourself on––it counts up the pounds one after another after another.

Scale can be a ratio too––when maps are drawn "to scale," that means one mile of real road might translate to one inch of road on the map. Even fish scales can be understood this way––they repeat the same shape row after row after row. You can also rate something using a scale: "How much do you love pizza? Rate it on a scale of one to ten, with one being blech and ten being amazing."

Definitions of scale
  1. noun
    an ordered reference standard
    “judging on a scale of 1 to 10”
    synonyms: graduated table, ordered series, scale of measurement
    see moresee less
    show 16 types...
    hide 16 types...
    Beaufort scale, wind scale
    an international scale of wind force from 0 (calm air) to 12 (hurricane)
    a numerical scale used to compare variables with one another or with some reference number
    logarithmic scale
    scale on which actual distances from the origin are proportional to the logarithms of the corresponding scale numbers
    Mercalli scale
    a scale formerly used to describe the magnitude of an earthquake; an earthquake detected only by seismographs is a I and an earthquake that destroys all buildings is a XII
    Mohs scale
    a scale of hardness of solids; talc is 0 and diamond is 10; ordering is determined by which substance can scratch another substance
    Richter scale
    a logarithmic scale of 1 to 10 formerly used to express the magnitude of an earthquake on the basis of the size of seismograph oscillations
    moment magnitude scale
    a logarithmic scale of 1 to 10 (a successor to the Richter scale) that enables seismologists to compare the energy released by different earthquakes on the basis of the area of the geological fault that ruptured in the quake
    temperature scale
    a system of measuring temperature
    wage scale, wage schedule
    a schedule of wages paid for different jobs
    margin of error, margin of safety, safety margin
    the margin required in order to insure safety
    Celsius scale, centigrade scale, international scale
    a temperature scale that defines the freezing point of water as 0 degrees and the boiling point of water as 100 degrees
    Fahrenheit scale
    a temperature scale that defines the freezing point of water as 32 degrees and the boiling point of water a 212 degrees
    Kelvin scale, absolute scale
    a temperature scale that defines absolute zero as 0 degrees; water freezes at 273.16 degrees and boils at 373.16 degrees
    Rankine scale
    a scale of absolute temperature in Fahrenheit degrees; the freezing point of water is 491.69 degrees and the boiling point of water is 671.69 degrees
    Reaumur scale
    a temperature scale on which water freezes at 0 degrees and boils at 80 degrees
    sliding scale
    a wage scale that fluctuates in response to the cost-of-living index
    type of:
    criterion, measure, standard, touchstone
    a basis for comparison; a reference point against which other things can be evaluated
  2. noun
    an indicator having a graduated sequence of marks
    see moresee less
    vernier, vernier scale
    a small movable scale that slides along a main scale; the small scale is calibrated to indicate fractional divisions of the main scale
    type of:
    a device for showing the operating condition of some system
  3. noun
    a measuring instrument for weighing; shows amount of mass
    synonyms: weighing machine
    see moresee less
    show 7 types...
    hide 7 types...
    a scale for weighing; depends on pull of gravity
    platform scale flush with a roadway for weighing vehicles and cattle etc
    beam balance
    a balance consisting of a lever with two equal arms and a pan suspended from each arm
    electronic balance
    a balance that generates a current proportional to the displacement of the pan
    balance for weighing very small objects
    spring balance, spring scale
    a balance that measure weight by the tension on a helical spring
    beam scale, lever scale, steelyard
    a portable balance consisting of a pivoted bar with arms of unequal length
    type of:
    measuring device, measuring instrument, measuring system
    instrument that shows the extent or amount or quantity or degree of something
  4. verb
    pattern, make, regulate, set, measure, or estimate according to some rate or standard
    see moresee less
    type of:
    model, pattern
    plan or create according to a model or models
  5. verb
    measure by or as if by a scale
    “This bike scales only 25 pounds”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    have certain dimensions
  6. verb
    measure with or as if with scales
    scale the gold”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    measure, quantify
    express as a number or measure or quantity
  7. noun
    the ratio between the size of something and a representation of it
    “the scale of the map”
    “the scale of the model”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    the quotient obtained when the magnitude of a part is divided by the magnitude of the whole
  8. noun
    relative magnitude
    “they entertained on a grand scale
    see moresee less
    type of:
    magnitude relation, quantitative relation
    a relation between magnitudes
  9. verb
    size or measure according to a scale
    “This model must be scaled down”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    make to a size; bring to a suitable size
  10. noun
    (music) a series of notes differing in pitch according to a specific scheme (usually within an octave)
    synonyms: musical scale
    see moresee less
    show 6 types...
    hide 6 types...
    the entire scale of musical notes
    diatonic scale
    a scale with eight notes in an octave; all but two are separated by whole tones
    chromatic scale
    a 12-note scale including all the semitones of the octave
    gapped scale
    a musical scale with fewer than seven notes
    pentatone, pentatonic scale
    a gapped scale with five notes; usually the fourth and seventh notes of the diatonic scale are omitted
    mode, musical mode
    any of various fixed orders of the various diatonic notes within an octave
    type of:
    musical notation
    (music) notation used by musicians
  11. noun
    a thin flake of dead epidermis shed from the surface of the skin
    synonyms: exfoliation, scurf
    see moresee less
    small scales from animal skins or hair or bird feathers that can cause allergic reactions in some people
    loose scales shed from the scalp
    type of:
    bit, chip, flake, fleck, scrap
    a small fragment of something broken off from the whole
  12. noun
    a flattened rigid plate forming part of the body covering of many animals
    see moresee less
    fish scale
    scale of the kind that covers the bodies of fish
    a protective structure resembling a scale
    alula, calypter
    scalelike structure between the base of the wing and the halter of a two-winged fly
    type of:
    cover, covering, natural covering
    a natural object that covers or envelops
  13. noun
    a specialized leaf or bract that protects a bud or catkin
    synonyms: scale leaf
    see moresee less
    a minute scale
    type of:
    foliage, leaf, leafage
    the main organ of photosynthesis and transpiration in higher plants
  14. noun
    a metal sheathing of uniform thickness (such as the shield attached to an artillery piece to protect the gunners)
    synonyms: plate, shell
    see moresee less
    show 25 types...
    hide 25 types...
    armor plate, armor plating, armour plate, plate armor, plate armour
    specially hardened steel plate used to protect fortifications or vehicles from enemy fire
    horseshoe, shoe
    U-shaped plate nailed to underside of horse's hoof
    shell plating
    the plates covering the frame of a steel ship and corresponding to the planking of a wooden ship
    plate armor protecting the back; worn as part of a cuirass
    a movable piece of armor on a medieval helmet used to protect the lower face
    armor plate that protects the arm
    aegis, breastplate, egis
    armor plate that protects the chest; the front part of a cuirass
    (Middle Ages) a cylindrical piece of armor plate to protect the arm
    chamfron, chanfron, front-stall, frontstall, testiere
    medieval plate armor to protect a horse's head
    body armor that protects the elbow
    armor plate that protects the thigh
    armor plate that protects the shoulder
    a piece of armor plate below the breastplate
    armor plate that protects the neck
    greave, jambeau
    armor plate that protects legs below the knee
    armor plate that protects the head
    knee piece
    armor plate that protects the knee
    armor plate that protects the nose
    palette, pallette
    one of the rounded armor plates at the armpits of a suit of armor
    round piece of armor plate that protects the armpit
    skirt of tasses
    armor plate that protects the body below the waist
    sabaton, solleret
    armor plate that protects the foot; consists of mail with a solid toe and heel
    tasse, tasset
    one of two pieces of armor plate hanging from the fauld to protect the upper thighs
    armor plate that protects the hip and thigh
    visor, vizor
    a piece of armor plate (with eye slits) fixed or hinged to a medieval helmet to protect the face
    type of:
    a protective covering or structure
  15. verb
    remove the scales from
    scale fish”
    synonyms: descale
    see moresee less
    type of:
    remove, take, take away, withdraw
    remove something concrete, as by lifting, pushing, or taking off, or remove something abstract
  16. verb
    climb up by means of a ladder
    see moresee less
    type of:
    climb, climb up, go up, mount
    go upward with gradual or continuous progress
  17. verb
    take by attacking with scaling ladders
    “The troops scaled the walls of the fort”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    take by force
  18. verb
    reach the highest point of
    “We scaled the Mont Blanc”
    synonyms: surmount
    see moresee less
    type of:
    arrive at, attain, gain, hit, make, reach
    reach a destination, either real or abstract
Word Family
F1 image

Express yourself in 25 languages

  • Learn immersively - no memorization required
  • Build skills for real-world conversations
  • Get immediate feedback on your pronunciation
Get started for $7.99/month