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[skey-lee] /ˈskeɪ li/
adjective, scalier, scaliest.
covered with or abounding in scales or scale.
characterized by or consisting of scales; scalelike.
peeling or flaking off in scales.
Slang. shabby; despicable.
Origin of scaly
1520-30; scale1 + -y1
Related forms
scaliness, noun
unscaly, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for scaly
Historical Examples
  • Then he went to Chartres, and examined its scaly spires and quaint carving then he idled about Coutances.

    A Pair of Blue Eyes Thomas Hardy
  • The Armed-Fish has its name from its arms, and its scaly mail.

    The History of Louisiana Le Page Du Pratz
  • With that he clutched the poor weeping Princess in his scaly arms and carried her back to the castle.

    The Laughing Prince Parker Fillmore
  • The stem is inclined to be scaly, thickened at the base, solid.

  • Slith agreed by pounding vigorously on the table with his scaly rump.

  • Large tree with orange-yellow winter buds, and firm, not scaly, bark.

  • Though the outlaws carried on a constant guerilla warfare with the scaly Ones, it was all on a small scale.

    The Golden Amazons of Venus John Murray Reynolds
  • The scaly flesh of his head and face was dissolving like melting butter.

    Zehru of Xollar Hal K. Wells
  • He grasped the fish and tore it, pushing frantically at his own body with the now-rancid, scaly, odorous mass.

    The Forgotten Planet Murray Leinster
  • O insatiate brute, and most disgusting, brazen, and scaly reptile!

    Roundabout Papers William Makepeace Thackeray
British Dictionary definitions for scaly


adjective scalier, scaliest
resembling or covered in scales
peeling off in scales
Derived Forms
scaliness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for scaly

also scaley, late 14c., from scale (n.1) + -y (2). Related: Scaliness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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scaly in Medicine

scaly scal·y (skā'lē)

  1. Covered or partially covered with scales.

  2. Shedding scales or flakes; flaking.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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