scale

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."

Primary Meanings of scale

1.
nv
an ordered reference standard
pattern, make, regulate, set, measure, or estimate according to some rate or standard
2.
nv
the ratio between the size of something and a representation of it
size or measure according to a scale
3.
n
(music) a series of notes differing in pitch according to a specific scheme (usually within an octave)
4.
nv
a thin flake of dead epidermis shed from the surface of the skin
remove the scales from
5.
v
climb up by means of a ladder
Full Definitions of scale
1

n an ordered reference standard

“judging on a scale of 1 to 10”
Synonyms:
graduated table, ordered series, scale of measurement
Types:
show 16 types...
hide 16 types...
Beaufort scale, wind scale
an international scale of wind force from 0 (calm air) to 12 (hurricane)
index
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

n an indicator having a graduated sequence of marks

Types:
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:
indicator
a device for showing the operating condition of some system

n a measuring instrument for weighing; shows amount of mass

Synonyms:
weighing machine
Types:
show 7 types...
hide 7 types...
balance
a scale for weighing; depends on pull of gravity
weighbridge
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
microbalance
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

v pattern, make, regulate, set, measure, or estimate according to some rate or standard

Type of:
model, pattern
plan or create according to a model or models

v measure by or as if by a scale

“This bike scales only 25 pounds”
Type of:
measure
have certain dimensions

v measure with or as if with scales

scale the gold”
Type of:
measure, quantify
express as a number or measure or quantity
2

n the ratio between the size of something and a representation of it

“the scale of the map”
“the scale of the model”
Type of:
proportion
the quotient obtained when the magnitude of a part is divided by the magnitude of the whole

n relative magnitude

“they entertained on a grand scale
Type of:
magnitude relation, quantitative relation
a relation between magnitudes

v size or measure according to a scale

“This model must be scaled down”
Type of:
size
make to a size; bring to a suitable size
3

n (music) a series of notes differing in pitch according to a specific scheme (usually within an octave)

Synonyms:
musical scale
Types:
show 6 types...
hide 6 types...
gamut
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
4

n a thin flake of dead epidermis shed from the surface of the skin

Synonyms:
exfoliation, scurf
Types:
dander
small scales from animal skins or hair or bird feathers that can cause allergic reactions in some people
dandruff
loose scales shed from the scalp
Type of:
bit, chip, flake, fleck, scrap
a small fragment of something broken off from the whole

n a flattened rigid plate forming part of the body covering of many animals

Types:
fish scale
scale of the kind that covers the bodies of fish
squama
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

n a specialized leaf or bract that protects a bud or catkin

Synonyms:
scale leaf
Types:
squamule
a minute scale
Type of:
foliage, leaf, leafage
the main organ of photosynthesis and transpiration in higher plants

n a metal sheathing of uniform thickness (such as the shield attached to an artillery piece to protect the gunners)

Synonyms:
plate, shell
Types:
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
backplate
plate armor protecting the back; worn as part of a cuirass
beaver
a movable piece of armor on a medieval helmet used to protect the lower face
brassard
armor plate that protects the arm
aegis, breastplate, egis
armor plate that protects the chest; the front part of a cuirass
cannon
(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
cubitiere
body armor that protects the elbow
cuisse
armor plate that protects the thigh
epauliere
armor plate that protects the shoulder
fauld
a piece of armor plate below the breastplate
gorget
armor plate that protects the neck
greave, jambeau
armor plate that protects legs below the knee
helmet
armor plate that protects the head
knee piece
armor plate that protects the knee
nosepiece
armor plate that protects the nose
palette, pallette
one of the rounded armor plates at the armpits of a suit of armor
roundel
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
tuille
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:
shield
a protective covering or structure

v remove the scales from

scale fish”
Synonyms:
descale
Type of:
remove, take, take away, withdraw
remove something concrete, as by lifting, pushing, or taking off, or remove something abstract
5

v climb up by means of a ladder

Type of:
climb, climb up, go up, mount
go upward with gradual or continuous progress

v take by attacking with scaling ladders

“The troops scaled the walls of the fort”
Type of:
take
take by force

v reach the highest point of

“We scaled the Mont Blanc”
Synonyms:
surmount
Type of:
arrive at, attain, gain, hit, make, reach
reach a destination, either real or abstract

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a life-long learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.