gra·​di·​ent | \ ˈgrā-dē-ənt How to pronounce gradient (audio) \

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)

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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

Stewart's own gradient look uses coral, yellow, and black lacquer to offset her bright neon swoosh of green liner. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "Kristen Stewart Test Drives Summer’s Must-Have Manicure," 28 May 2019 In the second analysis, the team scrutinized the genomes of pregnant women reporting a gradient of nausea and vomiting symptoms, from none to very severe. Roni Dengler, Science | AAAS, "Researchers converge on possible cause for severe morning sickness," 21 Mar. 2018 Gigi Hadid and celebrity nail artist Mei Kawajiri also embraced the rainbow gradient for a Euro-themed mani. Leah Prinzivalli, Allure, "Gradient Nails Are the Prettiest New Manicure Trend for Spring," 15 Mar. 2019 The color choices all look lovely with trendy gradient options in purple or red. Ashley Carman, The Verge, "Xiaomi’s new Mi Play features a circular camera notch and dual, rear-facing cameras," 24 Dec. 2018 The device features a translucent black design revealing the inner workings of the device with a sleek black-to-gold gradient. Nick Statt, The Verge, "Microsoft’s translucent Phantom Black Xbox controller is a mesmerizing gaming gadget," 14 Aug. 2018 The gradient between no snow and where several inches of snow accumulates is likely to be fairly sharp. 4. Jason Samenow, Washington Post, "Big ocean storm to brush D.C. area with a dusting to a few inches of snow, heaviest in eastern areas," 3 Jan. 2018 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

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.

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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

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Statistics for gradient

Last Updated

3 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for gradient

The first known use of gradient was in 1835

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More Definitions for gradient



English Language Learners Definition of gradient

: a place where the ground slopes up or down


gra·​di·​ent | \ ˈgrād-ē-ənt How to pronounce gradient (audio) \

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

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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

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