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  1. extent or range of view, outlook, application, operation, effectiveness, etc.: an investigation of wide scope.
  2. space for movement or activity; opportunity for operation: to give one's fancy full scope.
  3. extent in space; a tract or area.
  4. length: a scope of cable.
  5. aim or purpose.
  6. Linguistics, Logic. the range of words or elements of an expression over which a modifier or operator has control: In “old men and women,” “old” may either take “men and women” or just “men” in its scope.
  7. (used as a short form of microscope, oscilloscope, periscope, radarscope, riflescope, telescopic sight, etc.)
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verb (used with object), scoped, scop·ing.
  1. Slang. to look at, read, or investigate, as in order to evaluate or appreciate.
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Verb Phrases
  1. scope out, Slang.
    1. to look at or over; examine; check out: a rock musician scoping out the audience before going on stage.
    2. to master; figure out: By the time we'd scoped out the problem, it was too late.
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Origin of scope

1525–35; < Italian scopo < Greek skopós aim, mark to shoot at; akin to skopeîn to look at (see -scope)
Related formsscope·less, adjective


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1. See range. 2. margin, room, liberty.


  1. a combining form meaning “instrument for viewing,” used in the formation of compound words: telescope.
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Compare -scopy.

Origin of -scope

< New Latin -scopium < Greek -skopion, -skopeion, equivalent to skop(eîn) to look at (akin to sképtesthai to look, view carefully; cf. skeptic) + -ion, -eion noun suffix
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for scope

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

British Dictionary definitions for scope


  1. opportunity for exercising the faculties or abilities; capacity for actionplenty of scope for improvement
  2. range of view, perception, or grasp; outlook
  3. the area covered by an activity, topic, etc; rangethe scope of his thesis was vast
  4. nautical slack left in an anchor cable
  5. logic linguistics that part of an expression that is governed by a given operator: the scope of the negation in PV– (qr) is –(qr)
  6. informal short for telescope, microscope, oscilloscope
  7. archaic purpose or aim
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verb (tr)
  1. informal to look at or examine carefully
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See also scope out

Word Origin

C16: from Italian scopo goal, from Latin scopus, from Greek skopos target; related to Greek skopein to watch


n combining form
  1. indicating an instrument for observing, viewing, or detectingmicroscope; stethoscope
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Derived Forms-scopic, adj combining form

Word Origin

from New Latin -scopium, from Greek -skopion, from skopein to look at
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 scope


"extent," 1530s, "room to act," from Italian scopo "aim, purpose, object, thing aimed at, mark, target," from Latin scopus, from Greek skopos "aim, target, watcher," from PIE *spek- "to observe" (cf. Sanskrit spasati "sees;" Avestan spasyeiti "spies;" Greek skopein "behold, look, consider," skeptesthai "to look at;" Latin specere "to look at;" Old High German spehhon "to spy," German spähen "to spy"). Sense of "distance the mind can reach, extent of view" first recorded c.1600.

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"instrument for viewing," 1872, abstracted from telescope, microscope, etc., from Greek skopein "to look" (see scope (n.1)). Earlier used as a shortening of horoscope (c.1600).

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"to view," 1807, from the source of scope (n.2). Related: Scoped; scoping.

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word-forming element indicating "an instrument for seeing," from Late Latin -scopium, from Greek -skopion, from skopein "to look at, examine" (see scope (n.1)).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

scope in Medicine


  1. An instrument for viewing or observing:bronchoscope.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.