\ ˈskā-lē How to pronounce scaly (audio) \
scalier; scaliest

Definition of scaly

1a : covered with, composed of, or rich in scale or scales
b : flaky
2 : of or relating to scaly animals
3 : despicable, poor a regular scaly old shop— Charles Dickens
4 : infested with scale insects scaly fruit

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Other Words from scaly

scaliness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for scaly


scaled, squamous



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Examples of scaly in a Sentence

His skin was dry and scaly. the snake's scaly skin was dry to the touch

Recent Examples on the Web

People have long sought relief from eczema—the itchy, scaly, rash-causing skin disorder that affects one in 10 Americans—in lotions, cleansing creams and special soaps. Susan Kitchens, WSJ, "Bacteria May Offer New Hope for Treating Skin Disorders," 5 Feb. 2019 Today’s cinematic Aquaman, played by Jason Momoa, is a lot cooler, with scaly musculature and tangled, flowing locks that recall the deadly tendrils of a Portuguese man o’ war. Thomas Vinciguerra, WSJ, "I Want to Be Aquaman When I Grow Up . . .," 13 Dec. 2018 Photos circulated show the scaly little guys (about one- to three-feet long, not fully grown) being handled by Audubon employees, with kids comfortably petting the gators' backs. Bridget Hallinan, Condé Nast Traveler, "New Orleans' Airport Lets You Pet Baby Alligators for Emotional Support," 26 Nov. 2018 Follow along in this video to see her scaly, stunning look. Blake Bakkila, Good Housekeeping, "These 4 Last-Minute DIY Mermaid Costumes Will Make a Splash This Halloween," 26 Oct. 2018 The Hashtag Show was the first to report this week that a source close to Walt Disney Studios had divulged Zendaya was given the option to step into Ariel's clamshell bra and green scaly tail. Lily Rose, Teen Vogue, "Zendaya Could Reportedly Play Ariel in Disney's Live-Action "The Little Mermaid"," 23 Aug. 2018 The buildup of skin cells create scaly, patches that can itch, hurt, crust up, and bleed. Mona Gohara, Good Housekeeping, "7 Common Scalp Issues — And How to Treat Them," 31 July 2018 Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a common skin condition, especially in children, that causes dry, itchy and scaly patches to appear, according to the Mayo Clinic. Lindsey Bever, Washington Post, "Tormented by eczema, woman kills her parents and then herself, police say," 20 June 2018 Soon thereafter a 2017 study suggesting that T. rex was primarily scaly drew critique from those who think T. rex had at least a partial covering of fuzzy protofeathers. Brian Switek, Smithsonian, "How We Elected T. rex to be Our Tyrant Lizard King," 21 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'scaly.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of scaly

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Statistics for scaly

Last Updated

20 Mar 2019

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The first known use of scaly was in the 14th century

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English Language Learners Definition of scaly

: covered with scales or flakes


\ ˈskā-lē How to pronounce scaly (audio) \
scalier; scaliest

Kids Definition of scaly

: covered with scales or flakes scaly skin


\ ˈskā-lē How to pronounce scaly (audio) \
scalier; scaliest

Medical Definition of scaly

: covered with or composed of scale or scales dry scaly skin

Other Words from scaly

scaliness noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on scaly

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with scaly

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for scaly

Spanish Central: Translation of scaly

Nglish: Translation of scaly for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of scaly for Arabic Speakers

Comments on scaly

What made you want to look up scaly? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to move or proceed with twists and turns

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