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 gradational (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

There are gradations among the conservatives on the court, just as there are with the liberal justices. Robert Barnes, Anchorage Daily News, "Gorsuch, Kavanaugh shift the Supreme Court, but their differences are striking," 30 June 2019 The gradation of color in a rainbow is continuous — there are no stripes. Gemma Tarlach, Discover Magazine, "20 Things You Didn't Know About Rainbows," 22 Apr. 2019 In Bertolucci’s films, morality is a story that is held together by infinite gradations of articulate color. Lee Siegel, WSJ, "Bertolucci’s Obsessions," 30 Nov. 2018 But my dudes: Women know there are gradations of abuse. David Roberts, Vox, "What so many men are missing about #MeToo," 10 Sep. 2018 In reality, there are many gradations between the poles. Rob Reid, Ars Technica, "Ars on your lunch break: The toxic truths within our DNA," 18 July 2018 Few choral bodies are as sensitive to Ravel’s subtle gradations of color, and the singing of Wolfe’s 130 choristers brought out the evocative wonder at the outset of Part 2 of the ballet. John Von Rhein,, "CSO delivers a winning Ravel program under debut conductor Pintscher," 6 Apr. 2018 For a network like OWN, there is an immediate advantage in its singular focus on black life in all its gradations. Jason Parham, WIRED, "How Oprah’s Network Finally Found Its Voice," 19 June 2018 But even within her sport, there are gradations of crazy. David Wharton,, "Ultra running can mean extreme heat, mountain climbs and, oh yeah, look out for those trees," 14 June 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near gradation


gradacol membrane






Statistics for gradation

Last Updated

4 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for gradation

The first known use of gradation was in 1549

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More Definitions for gradation



English Language Learners Definition of gradation

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on gradation

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gradation

Spanish Central: Translation of gradation

Nglish: Translation of gradation for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of gradation for Arabic Speakers

Comments on gradation

What made you want to look up gradation? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to form ideas or theories about something

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