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SCALE, noun [Latin id. If the sense is to strip, it coincides with the Gr. to spoil.]

1. The dish of a balance; and hence, the balance itself, or whole instrument; as, to turn the scale

Long time in even scale the battle hung.

But in general, we use the plural, scales, for the whole instrument.

The scales are turn'd; her kindness weights no more now than my vows.

2. The sign of the balance or Libra, in the zodiac.

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.

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.

4. A ladder; series of steps; means of ascending. [Latin scala.]

5. The art of storming a place by mounting the wall on ladders; an escalade, or scalade.

6. A mathematical instrument of wood or metal, on which are marked line 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 gamut; 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.

10. Any thing graduated or marked with degrees at equal distances.

SCALE, verb transitive

1. To climb, as by a ladder; to ascend by steps; and applied to the walls of a fortified place, to mount in assault or storm.

Oft have I scal'd the craggy oak.

2. [from scale a balance.] To measure; to compare; to weight.

3. [from scale the covering of a fish.] to strip or clear of scales; as, to scale a fish.

4. To take off in thin lamins or scales.

5. To pare off a surface.

If all the mountains were scaled, and the earth made even -

6. In the north of England, to spread, as manure or loose substances; also, to disperse; to waste.

7. In gunnery, to clean the inside of a cannon by the explosion of a small quantity of powder.

SCALE, verb intransitive To separate and come off in thin layers or lamins.

The old shells of the lobster scale off.