\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from scaly

scaliness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for scaly



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 All eight species of these shy, scaly creatures are said to be the most trafficked mammals in the world. National Geographic, "Sunda pangolin," 19 Mar. 2020 Unlike melanoma which is usually characterized by unusual moles, lumps and markings, actinic keratosis appears as small, dry, scaly or crusty patches of skin, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. NBC News, "How to heal dry, chapped lips, according to dermatologists," 20 Feb. 2020 The highlight was a massive turbot, the flat, shellfish-munching bottom-feeder whose eyes float arbitrarily on one side of its scaly, weird head (a special category of marine delicacy, fabulously ugly and fabulously delicious). Bill Buford, The New Yorker, "Béarnaise, the French Sauce That Makes Ordinary Food Spectacular," 8 May 2020 To test McNeill’s doubts, a friend, sitting with McNeill at the kitchen table, uploaded close-ups of a red, scaly rash characteristic of lupus, a serious medical condition. Emma Court,, "Bausch Yanked Online Prescribing After Dermatologist Backlash," 29 Apr. 2020 Pangolins—endangered, scaly, ant-eating mammals found in Asia and Africa about the size of domestic cats—are known to carry coronaviruses, Dan Challender wrote in an email. National Geographic, "THE BEST OF NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX," 26 Mar. 2020 Chinese officials have said the virus originated from a fish and meat market in Wuhan, China, that was shut down, and some reports say it may be linked to the pangolin, a scaly mammal that is on the endangered species list. Kimberly Leonard, Washington Examiner, "Trump official: 'No information whatsoever' that coronavirus is Chinese bioweapon," 18 Feb. 2020 Symptoms include pain, itching, redness, flaking, and scaly, cracked skin. Claire Gillespie, SELF, "How to Tell the Difference Between Psoriasis and Eczema," 12 Mar. 2020 The fungal rash can manifest itself as scaly, red circular lesions or flaking skin that is white in color, explains Emily Splichal, a podiatrist in New York City. Rebecca Dancer, Allure, "Everything You Need to Know About Athlete's Foot, According to Experts," 12 Mar. 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of scaly

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about scaly

Time Traveler for scaly

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for scaly

Last Updated

28 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Scaly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for scaly


How to pronounce scaly (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on scaly

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for scaly

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A More Exception(al) Quiz

  • hot dog  hot dog  hot dog  hot dog cat
  • Which of the following words is not a synonym for ‘a young person’?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!