American English

Definition of scale noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1[singular, uncountable] the size or extent of something, especially when compared with something else They entertain on a large scale (= they hold expensive parties with a lot of guests). Here was corruption on a grand scale. On a global scale, 77% of energy is created from fossil fuels. to achieve economies of scale in production (= to produce many items so the cost of producing each one is reduced) scale of something It was impossible to comprehend the full scale of the disaster. It was not until morning that the sheer scale of the damage could be seen (= how great it was). see also full-scale, large-scale, small-scale
  2. range of levels
  3. 2[countable] a range of levels or numbers used for measuring something a five-point pay scale to evaluate performance on a scale from 1 to 10 The salary scale goes from $12,000 to $20,000. a scale of charges see also Richter scale, sliding scale, timescale
  4. 3[countable, usually singular] the set of all the different levels of something, from the lowest to the highest At the other end of the scale, life is a constant struggle to get enough to eat. the social scale
  5. of map/diagram/model
  6. 4[countable] the relationship between the actual size of something and its size on a map, diagram, or model that represents it a scale of 1:25 000 a scale model/drawing Both plans are drawn to the same scale. Is this diagram to scale (= are all its parts the same size and shape in relation to each other as they are in the thing represented)?
  7. marks for measuring
  8. 5[countable] a series of marks at regular intervals on an instrument that is used for measuring How much does it read on the scale?
  9. weighing instrument
  10. 6[countable] an instrument for weighing people or things a bathroom/kitchen scale (figurative) the scales of justice (= represented as the two pans on a balance )
  11. in music
  12. 7[countable] a series of musical notes moving upward or downward, with fixed intervals between each note, especially a series of eight starting on a particular note the scale of C major to practice scales on the piano compare key, octave
  13. of fish/reptile
  14. 8[countable] any of the thin plates of hard material that cover the skin of many fish and reptiles The beast was a dragon, with great purple and green scales.
  15. in water pipes, etc.
  16. 9[uncountable] a hard, greyish-white substance that is sometimes left inside water pipes and containers for heating water
  17. Idioms
    tip the scales at something
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    to weigh a particular amount He tipped the scales at just over 175 pounds.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: scale