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scale 2 (skāl)
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n.
1.
a. A system of ordered marks at fixed intervals used as a reference standard in measurement: a ruler whose scale is in inches.
b. An instrument or device bearing such marks.
c. A standard of measurement or judgment; a criterion.
2.
a. A proportion used in determining the dimensional relationship of a representation to that which it represents: a world map with a scale of 1:4,560,000.
b. A calibrated line, as on a map or an architectural plan, indicating such a proportion.
c. Proper proportion: a house that seemed out of scale with its surroundings.
3. A progressive classification, as of size, amount, importance, or rank: judging divers' performances on a scale of 1 to 10.
4. A relative level or degree: entertained on a lavish scale.
5. A minimum wage fixed by contract: musicians playing a benefit concert for scale.
6. Mathematics A system of notation in which the values of numerical expressions are determined by their places relative to the chosen base of the system: the decimal scale.
7. Music An ascending or descending collection of pitches proceeding by a specified scheme of intervals.
v. scaled, scal·ing, scales
v.tr.
1. To climb up or over; ascend: scaled the peak.
2. To make in accord with a particular proportion or scale: Scale the model to be one tenth of actual size.
3. To alter according to a standard or by degrees; adjust in calculated amounts: scaled down their demands; scaled back the scheduled pay increase.
4. To estimate or measure the quantity of lumber in (logs or uncut trees).
v.intr.
1. To climb; ascend.
2. To rise in steps or stages.

[Middle English, from Latin scālae, ladder; see skand- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

scala·ble adj.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

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