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1. a thin flake or compacted platelike body, as of cornified epithelial cells. See also squama.
2. a scheme or device by which some property may be measured (as hardness, weight, linear dimension).
3. to remove incrustations or other material from a surface, as from the enamel of teeth.
absolute scale (absolute temperature scale)
1. one with its zero at absolute zero (−273.15°C, −459.67°F).
ASIA scale a descriptive tool developed by the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) as a part of the complete classification of patients with spinal cord injuries. Called also Frankel Classification. See accompanying table.
Bayley S's of Infant Development a psychological test for assessing development of infants, using motor, mental, and behavioral developmental scales.
Borg scale a numerical scale for assessing dyspnea, from 0 representing no dyspnea to 10 as maximal dyspnea.
Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment scale a behavioral assessment scale used to evaluate the interactive behavior of a newborn by its responses to environmental stimuli.
Celsius scale (C) a temperature scale with zero at the freezing point of water and the normal boiling point of water at 100 degrees. The abbreviation 100°C should be read “one hundred degrees Celsius.” (For equivalents of Celsius and Fahrenheit temperatures, see Appendix.)
centigrade scale one with 100 gradations or steps between two fixed points, as the Celsius scale.
Fahrenheit scale (F) a temperature scale with the freezing point of water at 32 degrees and the normal boiling point of water at 212 degrees. The abbreviation 100°F should be read “one hundred degrees Fahrenheit.” (For equivalents of Fahrenheit and Celsius temperatures, see Appendix.)
French scale one used for denoting the size of catheters, sounds, and other tubular instruments, each French unit (symbol F) being approximately 0.33 mm in diameter.
Glasgow Coma scale a standardized system for assessing response to stimuli in a neurologically impaired patient, assessing eye opening, verbal response, and motor ability. Reaction scores are depicted in numerical values, thus minimizing the problem of ambiguous and vague terms to describe the patient's neurologic status. (See accompanying Table.) The total score is obtained by adding E, M, and V; a score of 7 or less indicates coma and a score of 9 or more rules out coma.
Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) scale a hundred-point scale used as axis V of DSM-IV to assess a client's recent and current levels of social, psychological, and occupational functioning.
gray scale a representation of intensities in shades of gray, as in gray-scale ultrasonography.
interval scale a scale having equal numerical distances between intervals in addition to mutually exclusive categories, exhaustive categories, and rank ordering but no zero point.
Karnofsky scale (Karnofsky performance scale) a widely used performance scale, assigning scores ranging from 0 for a nonfunctional or dead patient to 100 for one with completely normal functioning.
Kelvin scale an absolute scale in which the unit of measurement, the kelvin, corresponds to that of the Celsius scale; therefore the ice point is at 273.15 kelvins.
Likert scale a tool used to determine opinions or attitudes; it contains a list of declarative statements, each followed by a scale on which the subject is to indicate degrees of intensity of a given feeling.
Neonatal Behavior Assessment scale Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale.
performance scale a scale that measures a patient's performance status, serving as a prognostic indicator of seriousness of disease or disability. The most widely used scale is the Karnofsky scale.
Problem Rating scale for Outcomes see problem rating scale for outcomes.
semantic differential scale a measurement device that consists of two opposite adjectives with a seven-point scale between them; each item under examination is assigned to a specific point on the scale.
temperature scale one for expressing degree of heat, based on absolute zero as a reference point, or with a certain value arbitrarily assigned to such temperatures as the ice point and boiling point of water.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. A standardized test for measuring psychologic, personality, or behavioral characteristics.
See also: score, test.
2. Synonym(s): squama
3. A small, thin plate of horny epithelium, resembling a fish scale, cast off from the skin.
4. To desquamate.
5. To remove tartar from the teeth.
6. A device by which some property can be measured.
[L. scala, a stairway]
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012


a. One of the many small hard dermal or epidermal structures that characteristically form the external covering of fishes and reptiles and certain mammals, such as pangolins.
b. A similar part in other animals, such as one of the thin flat overlapping structures that cover the wings of butterflies and moths.
a. A dry thin flake of epidermis shed from the skin.
b. A skin lesion or lesions marked by such flakes.
v. scaled, scaling, scales
Dentistry To remove (tartar) from tooth surfaces with a pointed instrument.
To come off in scales or layers; flake.

scale′like adj.
The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


Clinical research A group of related measures of a variable, which are arranged in some order of intensity or importance. See Abbreviated injury scale, Abnormal Involuntary Movement scale, ADL scale, Alzheimer's Disease Assessment scale, Baker scale, Barnes Akathisia scale, California relative value studies scale, Celsius scale, Center for Epidemiologic Studies scale, Cerebral performance category scale, Cincinnati Prehospital Stroke scale, Conflicts Tactics scale, Crohn's disease activity scale, Economy of scale, Epworth sleepiness scale, Family Environment scale, Framingham Disability scale, Glasgow coma scale, General Perceived Health scale, Goldman scale, Heinrichs–Carpenter Quality of Life scale, HOME scale, International Nuclear Event scale, Injury Severity scale, Inpatient Multidimensional Psychiatric scale, Instrumental ADL scale, Intensity of Sexual Desire & Symptoms scale, Jackson scale, Jenkins Activity scale, Karnovsky scale, Katz ADL scale, Kenny Self-Care scale, Killip scale, Lanza scale, Life event scale, Likert scale, Marital adjustment scale, Miller Behavioral Style scale, MISS scale, Modified Rankin scale, MRC scale, Neonatal Behavioral Assessment scale, NIH Stroke scale, Nominal scale, Ordinal scale, Overall Quality of Life scale, Paling scale, Positive & Negative Symptom scale, Prostate Symptomatology scale, Quality of Life scale, QWB-quality of well-being scale, RBRVS scale, Richter scale, Rosenberg scale, Safety-degree scale, Schneider scale, Scoville scale, Sexual Symptom Distress scale, Simpson-Angus scale, Specific Activity scale, Spielberger scale, Unified Parkinson's disease rating scale, Visual analogue scale, Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised scale, Zung Depression scale.
McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. Graduations, as on a scientific scale or instruments to mark units or divisions thereof to measure quantity.
2. Synonym(s): squama.
3. psychology/psychiatry A standardized test for measuring psychological, personality, or behavioral characteristics.
See also: test, score
4. A small, thin plate of horny epithelium, resembling a fish scale, cast off from the skin.
5. To desquamate.
6. dentistry/dental hygiene/dental assisting To remove calculus from the teeth.
7. A device by which some property can be measured.
[L. scala, a stairway]
Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing © Farlex 2012

1 scale

(skal) [L. scala, staircase]
1. A graduated or proportioned measure.
2. A tool that rates people, places, or things in relation to one another.

absolute scale

A scale used for indicating low temperatures based on absolute zero. It is used in thermodynamic calculations of, for example, heat/energy transfer.
Synonym: Kelvin scale See: absolute temperature; absolute zero

Activities-Specific Balance Confidence Scale

Abbreviation: ABC
A 16-item instrument designed to measure a patient’s perceived level of confidence in performing common ADLs without losing balance and falling. The patient ranks his confidence to complete each item from 0% (no confidence) to 100% (complete confidence).

ASIA Impairment Scale

A method of assessing the degree of motor and sensory impairment in spinal cord injured patients. The assessment is based on an examination of the perineum and anus, i.e., on the S4-S5 level of the spinal cord. Grade: A – Complete: No motor or sensory function; Grade B – Incomplete, sensory function is intact, but motor function is absent below and including the S4-S5 level; Grade C – Incomplete, motor function is preserved below the neurological level and more than half of the primary muscles have a muscle grade test of less than 3; Grade D – Incomplete: Motor function is preserved and at least half of the muscles below the S4-S5 level have a muscle grade test of 3 or better; and Grade E – Normal.

Borg dyspnea scale

See: Borg dyspnea scale

Braden scale

See: Braden scale

Brazelton Neonatal Assessment Scale

See: Brazelton Neonatal Assessment Scale

Celsius scale

See: Celsius, Anders

centigrade scale

Celsius scale.
See: Celsius, Anders

Clinical Linguistic and Auditory Milestone Scale

Abbreviation: CLAMS
An office test used to evaluate language development in children from birth to age 3.
See: Denver Developmental Screening Test

scale of contrast

The range of densities on a radiograph; the number of tonal grays that are visible.

Disability Rating Scale

An instrument to gauge the functional capabilities and progress of a person with moderate to severe brain injury. A person who has no deficits after recovery from brain injury receives a score of 0 (not impaired). A severely impaired person who is unemployable, unable to care for himself, and unable to open his eyes, move, or speak receives the lowest score: 29.

Fahrenheit scale

See: Fahrenheit, Daniel Gabriel

Falls Efficacy Scale

, falls efficacy scale Abbreviation: FES
A questionnaire to assess the level of confidence that patients have in performing activities of daily living without fear of falling.

French scale

A system to indicate the diameter of catheters and sounds. Each unit on the scale is approximately equivalent to one-third mm; thus a 21 French sound is 7 mm in diameter. The size of the diameter of the catheter increases as the numerical value of French increases.

Geriatric Depression Scale

Abbreviation: GDS
A 30-item questionnaire to screen for depression in older adults, e.g., when they first become eligible for Medicare.

Glasgow Coma Scale

Abbreviation: GCS
A scale to determine a patient's level of consciousness. It is a rating from 3 to 15 of the patient's ability to open his eyes, respond verbally, and move normally. The GCS is used primarily during the examination of patients with trauma or stroke. Repeated examinations can help determine if the patient's brain function is improving or deteriorating. Many EMS systems use the GCS for triage purposes and for determining which patients should be intubated in the field.
See: tablecoma; Trauma Score

Glasgow Outcome Scale

A scale that assesses current neurological awareness of the environment, and recovery and disability in all types of brain injury. The scale is to be used during the evaluation of trauma, stupor, or coma, and at prescribed time intervals, such as 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year after injury. The Glasgow group reports the greatest recovery in the 6-month period after injury. The nurse (or other health care practitioner) notes the patient's abilities at a particular time using this practical scale: Good outcome: may have minimal disabling sequelae but returns to independent functioning comparable to preinjury level and a full-time job; Moderate disability: is capable of independent functioning but not of returning to full-time employment; Moderate disability: is capable of independent functioning but not of returning to full-time employment; Severe disability: depends on others for some aspect of daily living; Persistive vegetative state: has no obvious cortical functioning; Dead.

Global Assessment of Functioning Scale

Abbreviation: GAF scale
A scale that rates a person's social, occupational, and psychological functioning. The scale rates from high functioning, (i.e., highly adapted and integrated to one's environment) to poorly functioning (i.e., self-destructive, homicidal, isolated, or lacking the rudiments of self-care). There is a children’s version of the scale, called the Children’s Global Assessment of Functioning (CGAF).

Global Assessment of Relational Functioning Scale

Abbreviation: GARF scale
A measure of the degree to which a family meets the emotional and functional needs of its members.

hydrogen ion scale

A scale used to express the degree of acidity or alkalinity of a solution. The classic pH scale extends from 0.00 (total acidity) to 14 (total alkalinity), the numbers running in inverse order of hydrogen ion (pH) concentration. The pH value is the negative logarithm of the hydrogen ion (pH) concentration of a solution, expressed in moles per liter.

As the hydrogen ion concentration decreases, a change of 1 pH unit means a 10-fold decrease in hydrogen ion concentration. Thus a solution with a pH of 1.0 is 10 times more acid than one with a pH of 2.0 and 100 times more acid than one with a pH of 3.0. A pH of 7.0 indicates neutrality. Very concentrated (> 1molar) mineral acids and bases go beyond the classic scale to values < 0.00 and > 14, respectively.

As the hydrogen ion concentration varies in a definite reciprocal manner with the hydroxyl ion (OH-) concentration, a pH reading above 7.0 indicates alkalinity. In the human body, arterial blood is slightly alkaline, having a normal pH range of 7.35 to 7.45.

See: pH

Karnofsky Scale

Karnofsky Index.

Kelvin scale

See: Kelvin, Lord

Klein-Bell ADL Scale

See: Klein-Bell ADL Scale

Kurtzke Expanded Disability Status Scale

See: Kurtzke Expanded Disability Status Scale

Morse Falls Scale

See: Morse Falls Scale

Motor Assessment Scale

An eight-item measurement tool used to assess motor function and physical mobility after a stroke.

Norton scale

See: Norton scale

Nottingham Extended Activities of Daily Living Scale

A widely used European scale of a person's activities of daily living that measures mobility and the ability to function in domestic tasks, kitchen tasks, and leisure activities.
See: instrumental activities of daily living

Oswestry Disability Scale

Oswestry Disability Index.

pain scale

An assessment tool used to measure the intensity of a patient's discomfort.
See: Numerical Rating Scale; visual analog scale

Norton scale

See: Norton scale

Numerical Rating Scale

, Numeric Rating Scale. Abbreviation: NRS
A variation of the visual analog scale that uses a scalar numbering system to objectify a patient’s pain. Most numeric rating scales use a 10-cm line with tick marks spaced 1 cm apart. The leftmost mark is labeled “0” and has the notation “No Pain.” The rightmost mark is labeled “10” and the notation “Worst pain imaginable.” The patient is asked to indicate where on the continuum he or she would rate the current intensity of pain.

resource-based relative value scale

Abbreviation: RBRVS
A scale for determining the monetary value of evaluation and management services provided to patients, i.e., services provided to patients by nonsurgeons. The scale is based on the total work required for a given service and on other considerations, including the cost of the physician's practice, the income lost during training, and the relative cost of liability insurance.
See: managed care; managed competition

Stroke Impact Scale

An instrument to measure the effect of a stroke on a person's mobility, speech, social activities, manual dexterity, strength, emotions, memory, and daily activities.

Vancouver scar scale

Burn scar index.

visual analog scale

An instrument used to quantify a subjective experience, such as the intensity of pain. A commonly used visual analog scale is a 10-cm line labeled with “worst pain imaginable” on the right border and “no pain” on the left border. The patient is instructed to make a mark along the line to represent the intensity of pain currently being experienced. The clinician records the distance of the mark in centimeters from the left end of the scale.

Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale

See: Wechsler, David

Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children

See: Wechsler, David

Zubrod performance scale

See: Zubrod performance scale
Eye openingspontaneously 4
to speech3
to pain2
Verbal responseoriented5
Motor responseobeys commands6
localizes to pain5
withdraws from pain4
flexion to pain3
extension to pain2

2 scale

(skal) [Fr. escale, husk]
Enlarge picture
1. A small dry flake, shed from the upper layers of skin. Some shedding of skin is normal; scale increases in diseases like pityriasis rosea, psoriasis, and tinea pedis and after scratching the skin. See: illustration
2. A film of tartar encrusting the teeth.
3. To remove a film of tartar from the teeth.
4. To form a scale on.
5. To shed scales.

3 scale

(skal) [Old Norse skál, bowl]
An instrument for weighing.
Medical Dictionary, © 2009 Farlex and Partners


any plate-like outgrowth of the integument of an organism, each in the form of a flat calcified or horny structure on the surface of the skin. Scales are found in fish, and in reptiles such as snakes where they are derived from both the epidermis and the dermis, and in insects (e.g. Lepidoptera) , where they are derived from hairs. See PLACOID, COSMOID, GANOID.
Collins Dictionary of Biology, 3rd ed. © W. G. Hale, V. A. Saunders, J. P. Margham 2005


To remove tartar from the teeth.
2. To desquamate.
[L. scala, a stairway]
Medical Dictionary for the Dental Professions © Farlex 2012

Patient discussion about scale

Q. how do i grade the severeness of my asthma? is there like a common scale for it?

A. Yes, it's graded according to the frequency of the day-time (from 2 days in a week to continuous symptoms) and night time (from 2 nights per month to every night) symptoms. The more frequent the disease, the more aggressive the treatment is.

You may read more here:

Q. how would recognize the severeness of every Autistic person? is there like a known chart and scale for it???

A. there's the "Social Responsiveness Scale" (SRS).
The SRS measures the severity of social impairment associated with autism spectrum disorders.

More discussions about scale
This content is provided by iMedix and is subject to iMedix Terms. The Questions and Answers are not endorsed or recommended and are made available by patients, not doctors.
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