gra·​da·​tion | \ grā-ˈdā-shən How to pronounce gradation (audio) , grə- \

Definition of gradation

1a : a series forming successive stages the gradations of evolutionary development
b : a step or place in an ordered scale
2 : an advance by regular degrees gradations of social progress
3 : a gradual passing from one tint or shade to another
4 : the act or process of grading
5 : ablaut

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Other Words from gradation

gradational \ grā-​ˈdā-​shnəl How to pronounce gradation (audio) , -​shə-​nᵊl , grə-​ \ adjective
gradationally adverb

Did You Know?

In the Boy Scouts, gradations of rank move upward from Tenderfoot to Eagle Scout. A violin or a voice can produce gradations of musical pitch too small to appear in written music. In the 18th century Jonathan Swift could even write of "the several kinds and gradations of laughter, which ladies must daily practice by the looking-glass".

Examples of gradation in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web For food professionals, who spend their lives exploring nuance and gradation in flavor, recourse is even more limited. Washington Post, "Coronavirus steals a chef’s sense of taste, and there’s no telling when it might come back," 28 Sep. 2020 Softer hardwoods like ash, cherry, and birch tend to have more subtle variations in their color and gradation, which can create a more sophisticated look, with a higher price tag. Sarah Baird, House Beautiful, "Janka Scale," 14 Sep. 2020 To stitch the campus into its surroundings, which include residential bungalows, a park and the famed Menil Collection galleries, the landscape architects from the firm Nelson Byrd Woltz encircled the sanctuary with a gradation of green spaces. Sallie Lewis, WSJ, "Inside The Holy Restoration of Houston’s Rothko Chapel," 8 Sep. 2020 The Half of It, streaming on Netflix, a prickly-tender film about teenage friendship, first love and all the blurry gradations in between. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "Netflix's Teen Dramedy The Half of It Is Sweet, Funny and Raw as a Scraped Knee," 30 Apr. 2020 The brand began exploring such gradations of color in 2007 with the pavé stone decoration of its Tango collection. Jessica Bumpus, New York Times, "In Diamonds, Brown Is ‘Much More Mysterious’," 10 Feb. 2020 There are gradations of prosopagnosia ranging from almost complete, which may bring the person to medical attention, to very mild. Quanta Magazine, "The Brain Reshapes Our Malleable Senses to Fit the World," 24 Mar. 2020 This scale is designed to measure in gradations of 0.2 ounces, and has non-slip rubber feet to minimize movement. Popular Science, "Baby scales to help you keep tabs on their growth," 11 Mar. 2020 Are there gradations of offense and corresponding consequences? Rosanne Cash, Billboard, "Rosanne Cash Opens Up About Her #MeToo Experiences -- And How The Industry Can Avoid Further 'Collateral Damage'," 21 Mar. 2019

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

1549, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for gradation

see grade entry 1

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Time Traveler for gradation

Time Traveler

The first known use of gradation was in 1549

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Cite this Entry

“Gradation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for gradation


How to pronounce gradation (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of gradation

: a small difference between two points or parts that can be seen in something that changes gradually

More from Merriam-Webster on gradation

Nglish: Translation of gradation for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of gradation for Arabic Speakers

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