gradient

noun
gra·​di·​ent | \ ˈgrā-dē-ənt \

Definition of gradient

1a : the rate of regular or graded (see grade entry 2 sense transitive 2) ascent or descent : inclination
b : a part sloping upward or downward
2 : change in the value of a quantity (such as temperature, pressure, or concentration) with change in a given variable and especially per unit distance in a specified direction
3 : the vector sum of the partial derivatives with respect to the three coordinate variables x, y, and z of a scalar quantity whose value varies from point to point
4 : a graded difference in physiological activity along an axis (as of the body or an embryonic field)

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

Any slope can be called a gradient. In the interstate highway system, the maximum gradient is 6 percent; in other words, the highway may never ascend more than 6 vertical feet over a distance of 100 feet. Any rate of change that's shown on a graph may have a sloped gradient. Suppose the graph's horizontal axis shows the passage of time and its vertical axis shows some activity; if the activity is happening very fast, then the gradient of the line on the graph will be steep, but if it's slow the gradient will be gentle, or gradual.

Examples of gradient in a Sentence

the path goes up at a pretty steep gradient before leveling off

Recent Examples on the Web

This allows the artist to play with various different effects, such as generating unusual color gradients. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Study: modern masters like Jackson Pollock were “intuitive physicists”," 26 Dec. 2018 Yes, the color gradients on the glass versions are fun to look at, but the leather P20 Pro is much nicer to hold and use. Vlad Savov, The Verge, "Huawei adds new colors to the P20 Pro plus leather back options for China," 1 Sep. 2018 The next year will also see a battle to determine exactly how many cameras make a phone most appealing, while the current trend of adding gradients and iridescence under the rear glass is likely to escalate to new heights of expressiveness. Vlad Savov, The Verge, "2018 was a weird notch year — what’s next?," 18 Dec. 2018 In one particularly striking shot, her eyes were dusted in a gradient of sunset shades that included a pop of orange on her brow bone and under her lids, a swipe of shocking pink on her crease, and a fleck of highlight in her inner corners. Zoë Weiner, Teen Vogue, "Cardi B Was Named Star of the Year by “People en Español”," 30 Oct. 2018 What people need to understand is that black people, multiracial or otherwise, come in a gradient of shades and tones. Yaminah Mayo, Glamour, "Khloé Kardashian Shouldn't Have to 'Block Out' Racist Remarks About True," 20 Sep. 2018 And as the difference in temperatures between the Arctic and the equator diminishes, so could the pressure gradient that drives large scale air currents like the jet stream. Rachel Becker, The Verge, "Hurricanes stalling like Florence over the Carolinas may get even more common," 15 Sep. 2018 Most of them, especially in the West, ooze outward in a gradient, urban to suburban to exurban to rural to wild. Adam Rogers, WIRED, "Please Stop Building Houses Exactly Where Wildfires Start," 13 Mar. 2018 Tropical cyclones are largely carried along by atmospheric circulation — and that has been slowing down, as the temperature gradient between the poles and the tropics begins to shrink (because the poles are warming faster than the tropics are). Amina Khan, latimes.com, "Hurricanes and typhoons are slowing down, which means more time to do damage," 6 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gradient.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of gradient

1835, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for gradient

Latin gradient-, gradiens, present participle of gradi

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about gradient

Statistics for gradient

Last Updated

28 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for gradient

The first known use of gradient was in 1835

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for gradient

gradient

noun

English Language Learners Definition of gradient

: a place where the ground slopes up or down

gradient

noun
gra·​di·​ent | \ ˈgrād-ē-ənt \

Medical Definition of gradient

1 : change in the value of a quantity (as temperature, pressure, or concentration) with change in a given variable and especially per unit on a linear scale
2 : a graded difference in physiological activity along an axis (as of the body or an embryonic field)
3 usually gradient of effect : change in response with distance from the stimulus

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on gradient

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gradient

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gradient

Spanish Central: Translation of gradient

Nglish: Translation of gradient for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of gradient for Arabic Speakers

Comments on gradient

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

WORD OF THE DAY

excited commotion or publicity

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!