de·​gree | \di-ˈgrē \

Definition of degree 

1 : a step or stage in a process, course, or order of classification advanced by degrees We all know that you're only three degrees away from all sorts of interesting and even famous people on social media.— Alex Proud

2a : a rank or grade of official, ecclesiastical, or social position people of low degree

b archaic : a particular standing especially as to dignity or worth

c : the civil (see civil sense 4) condition or status of a person

3 genealogy : a step in a direct line of descent or in the line of ascent to a common ancestor

4a obsolete : step, stair

b archaic : a member of a series arranged in steps (as of parts of a structure)

5 medical : a measure of damage to tissue caused by injury or disease — compare first-degree burn, second-degree burn, third-degree burn

6a : the extent, measure, or scope of an action, condition, or relation different in degree but not in kind requiring a high degree of skill

b : relative intensity a high degree of stress

c grammar : one of the forms or sets of forms used in the comparison of an adjective or adverb

d law : a legal measure of guilt or negligence found guilty of murder in the first degree

7a education : a title conferred on students by a college, university, or professional school on completion of a program of study earned her four-year degree associate's degrees has a degree in psychology

b : a grade of membership attained in a ritualistic order or society received his first degree in the Knights of Columbus

c : an academic title conferred to honor distinguished achievement or service The actor was presented with an honorary degree.

d : the formal ceremonies observed in the conferral of such a distinction

8 mathematics : a unit of measure for angles equal to an angle with its vertex at the center of a circle and its sides cutting off ¹/₃₆₀ of the circumference a fifteen degree angle 47 degrees Latitude also : a unit of measure for arcs of a circle equal to the amount of arc that subtends a central angle of one degree

9 archaic : a position or space on the earth or in the heavens as measured by degrees of latitude

10 music

a : a step, note, or tone of a scale

b : a line or space of the musical staff

11 : one of the divisions or intervals marked on a scale of a measuring instrument specifically : any of various units for measuring temperature 350 degrees Fahrenheit

12 mathematics

a : the sum of the exponents of the variables in the term of highest degree in a polynomial, polynomial function, or polynomial equation

b : the sum of the exponents of the variable factors of a monomial

c : the greatest power of the derivative of highest order in a differential equation after the equation has been rationalized (see rationalize sense 2) and cleared of fractions with respect to the derivative

to a degree

1 : to a remarkable extent : exceedingly I felt desolate to a degree— Charlotte Brontë

2 : in a small way to a degree he succeeded

Illustration of degree

Illustration of degree

degree 8

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Other Words from degree

degreed \ -​ˈgrēd \ adjective

Examples of degree in a Sentence

There are 360 degrees in a circle. These trees will thrive, to a greater or lesser degree, in a number of climates.

Recent Examples on the Web

Matt Lake said about 100 fish died recently in an isolated incident in the 21-acre lake when the heat index rose to 110 degrees the day after the lake was treated for algae, duckweed and other noxious weeds. Karen Caffarini, Post-Tribune, "About 100 fish found dead in Bon Aire Lake: Merrillville official," 13 July 2018 About a half-hour before dinner, preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Julia O'malley, Anchorage Daily News, "Alaskana recipe: Halibut Olympia a little better than you remember," 12 July 2018 Make the cake layers: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Nik Sharma,, "A Brown Kitchen: Mango layer cake for a fresh summer treat," 11 July 2018 There is evidence that cannabis can — to differing degrees — be used to treat a variety of medical issues, from back pain to seizures to the nausea associated with chemotherapy. Gary Robbins,, "Consumers are being flooded with dubious claims about the health benefits of marijuana," 9 July 2018 Turning your hot water heater to 120 degrees and taking shorter showers not only feel better, these steps save money. Leah Napoliello, Houston Chronicle, "BBB on Homes: Set your sights on summertime energy savings," 8 July 2018 With the exception of a potentially rainy Tuesday, the National Weather Service is calling for plenty of sun throughout the week, with high temperatures ranging from 87 to 92 degrees and lows ranging from 65 to 71 degrees. Enquirer Staff,, "Cincinnati Weather: The sun will be shining ... and beating down," 8 July 2018 This weekend, after an overnight low around 60, Sunday is expected to warm to about 80 degrees and sunny, Buttrick said. Lucas Phillips,, "After an ideal weekend, heat (though no wave) is on the way," 7 July 2018 If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-high (450 degrees). Jim Shahin, charlotteobserver, "The best way to grill a burger keeps it off the grate," 6 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'degree.' 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 degree

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for degree

Middle English, from Anglo-French degré, from Vulgar Latin *degradus, from Latin de- + gradus — see degrade

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Statistics for degree

Last Updated

11 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for degree

The first known use of degree was in the 13th century

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English Language Learners Definition of degree

: a unit for measuring temperature

: a unit for measuring the size of an angle

: an amount or level that can be measured or compared to another amount or level


de·​gree | \di-ˈgrē \

Kids Definition of degree

1 : a step in a series His health improved by degrees.

2 : amount of something as measured by a series of steps a high degree of progress

3 : one of the three forms an adjective or adverb may have when it is compared

4 : a title given (as to students) by a college or university She received a degree of doctor of medicine.

5 : one of the divisions marked on a measuring instrument (as a thermometer)

6 : a 360th part of the circumference of a circle

7 : a line or space of the staff in music or the difference in pitch between two notes


de·​gree | \di-ˈgrē \

Medical Definition of degree 

1 : a measure of damage to tissue caused by injury or disease — see first-degree burn, second-degree burn, third-degree burn

2a : a title conferred on students by a college, university, or professional school on completion of a unified program of study

b : an academic title conferred honorarily

3 : one of the divisions or intervals marked on a scale of a measuring instrument specifically : any of various units for measuring temperature

4 : a 360th part of the circumference of a circle

Other Words from degree

degreed \ -​ˈgrēd \ adjective

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Legal Definition of degree 

1 : a step in a direct line of descent or in the line of ascent to a common ancestor

2a : a measure of the seriousness of a crime — see also fifth degree, first degree, fourth degree, second degree, third degree

Note: Crimes are rated by degrees for the purpose of imposing more severe punishments for more serious crimes.

b : a measure of care also : a measure of negligence especially in connection with bailments — see also care, negligence

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