Richter scale



a scale, ranging from 1 to 10, for indicating the intensity of an earthquake.

Origin of Richter scale

1935–40; after Charles F. Richter (1900–85), U.S. seismologist Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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British Dictionary definitions for richter scale

Richter scale


a scale for expressing the magnitude of an earthquake in terms of the logarithm of the amplitude of the ground wave; values range from 0 to over 9Compare Mercalli scale See also magnitude (def. 5)

Word Origin for Richter scale

C20: named after Charles Richter (1900–85) US seismologist
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

Word Origin and History for richter scale

Richter scale

1938, devised by U.S. seismologist Charles Francis Richter (1900-1985).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

richter scale in Science

Richter scale


A logarithmic scale used to rate the strength or total energy of earthquakes. The scale has no upper limit but usually ranges from 1 to 9. Because it is logarithmic, an earthquake rated as 5 is ten times as powerful as one rated as 4. An earthquake with a magnitude of 1 is detectable only by seismographs; one with a magnitude of 7 is a major earthquake. The Richter scale is named after the American seismologist Charles Francis Richter (1900-1985). See Note at earthquake.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

richter scale in Culture

Richter scale


A scale used to rate the intensity of earthquakes. The scale is open-ended, with each succeeding level representing ten times as much energy as the last. A serious earthquake might rate six to eight, and very destructive quakes rate higher.


No quake greater than nine has ever been recorded.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.