Definition for SCALE

SCALE, n. [Sax. scale, sceale; D. schaal, a scale, a bowl, saucer or dish, and a shell, uniting the Sax. scale and scell; G. schale, a scale or balance, a dish, bowl, shell, peel or paring; Dan. skal, a shell; skaler, to shell, peel or pare; skiel, a fish scale; Sw. skal, a shell; Fr. ecaille; ecailler, to scale or peel; ecale, a shell; ecaler, to shell; echelle, a scale or ladder; It. scaglia, the scale of a fish; scala, a ladder; L. id., Sp. escala. Scale, a shell and a dish, is probably from peeling or paring, that is, separating; but whether a simple or compound word, (es-cal, ex-cal,) I do not know. If the sense is to strip, it coincides with the Gr. σχολαω, to spoil.]

  1. The dish of a balance; and hence, the balance itself, or whole instrument; as, to turn the scale. Longtime in even scale / The battle hung. – Milton. But in general, we use the plural, scales, for the whole instrument. The scales are turn'd; her kindness weighs no more / Now than my vows. – Waller.
  2. The sign of the balance or Libra, in the zodiac. – Creech.
  3. The small shell or crust which composes a part of the covering of a fish; and hence, any thin layer or leaf exfoliated or separated; a thin lamin; as, scales of iron or of bone. Sharp. The scales of fish consist of alternate layers of membrane and phosphate of lime. The scales of serpents are composed of a horny membrane, without the calcarious phosphate. – Ure.
  4. A ladder; series of steps; means of ascending. [L. scala.] – Addison.
  5. The act of storming a place by mounting the walls on ladders; an escalade, or scalade. – Milton.
  6. A mathematical instrument of wood or metal, on which are marked lines and figures for the purpose of measuring distances, extent or proportions; as, a plain scale; a diagonal scale.
  7. Regular gradation; a series rising by steps or degrees like those of a ladder. Thus we speak of the scale of being, in which man occupies a higher rank than brutes, and angels a higher rank than man.
  8. Any instrument, figure or scheme, graduated for the purpose of measuring extent or proportions; as, a map drawn by a scale of half an inch to a league.
  9. In music, a gammut; a diagram; or a series of lines and spaces rising one above another, on which notes are placed; or a scale consists of the regular gradations of sounds. A scale may be limited to an octave, called by the Greeks a tetrachord, or it may extend to the compass of any voice or instrument. – Encyc.
  10. Any thing graduated or marked with degrees at equal distances.

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