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

In June, 31-year-old Kevin Hevel pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree murder in connection with the 2017 death of 60-year-old Peter Rankin. Bree Burkitt, azcentral, "Former Navajo Nation police officer sentenced to 16 years in prison for fatal DUI crash," 14 July 2018 He’s been charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery with a firearm, police said. Rosemary Sobol,, "1 dead, 1 wounded in Waukegan shooting; 15-year-old boy charged," 14 July 2018 When Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder on July 13, 2013, the phrase Black Lives Matter was coined. Hal Boedeker,, "Trayvon Martin: Parents promote 'Rest in Power' documentary," 13 July 2018 Buie received a prison term of nine to 12 years under the terms of a plea deal; she was previously indicted on a second-degree-murder charge in the case. Travis Andersen,, "Woman pleads guilty in beating death of 3-year-old stepson in Roxbury," 13 July 2018 Treece has been charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and two counts of unlawful use of a weapon, according to online court records. Kaitlyn Schwers, kansascity, "After killing his wife, he stood over her body for hours on his deck, Missouri cops say," 13 July 2018 Carswell was charged with second-degree murder and said she was criticized by Young in the press for having committed the first murder of the year. Deasia Paige, Detroit Free Press, "Prison to purses: Detroit program gives ex-female felons a 2nd chance," 12 July 2018 On Wednesday, his niece, Heather Barbera, 41, was charged with two counts of first degree murder, robbery and weapon possession. Amy S. Rosenberg,, "Relative of mother, grandmother killed in Ventnor condo: 'I warned them not to take her in'," 12 July 2018 In 2015, McCasland was tried for second-degree murder and convicted; he was eventually sentenced to life without parole. Josie Duffy Rice, The Atlantic, "The Gospel According to Pusha T," 12 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

16 Sep 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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