gradient

noun

gra·​di·​ent ˈgrā-dē-ənt How to pronounce gradient (audio)
1
a
: 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)

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 The Storm offers incredible zip, with top speeds exceeding 55 mph and a maximum gradient of 35 degrees. Kevin Brouillard, Travel + Leisure, 9 Feb. 2024 The rapper’s look consisted of a wine red button-down set with a gradient of faces printed and a fuzzy cream coat with cobalt blue embroidery of even more faces stitched on. Kerane Marcellus, Essence, 22 Jan. 2024 But just as every tenth of a degree matters in the push to limit the average global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, gradients matter in geopolitics. Jason Bordoff, Foreign Affairs, 18 Jan. 2024 The winner, which features a cutout of the statehouse atop a blue-yellow gradient, received over half of the 270,000 votes. Jenna Barackman, Kansas City Star, 29 Jan. 2024 The collection features pieces like a knit cardigan with a gradient effect on the monogram print. Kerane Marcellus, Essence, 19 Jan. 2024 More broadly, in any solution with a concentration gradient, the force of diffusion propels whatever larger particles happen to be hanging around. Cody Cottier, Discover Magazine, 8 Jan. 2024 All 14 members of the studio threw out ideas, suggesting stars, gradients and shades of purple. Callie Holtermann, New York Times, 4 Dec. 2023 Present-day ombre lips are all about a gradient, seamless-looking finish. Annie Blay, Allure, 21 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'gradient.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Latin gradient-, gradiens, present participle of gradi

First Known Use

1835, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of gradient was in 1835

Dictionary Entries Near gradient

Cite this Entry

“Gradient.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gradient. Accessed 5 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

gradient

noun
gra·​di·​ent ˈgrād-ē-ənt How to pronounce gradient (audio)
1
2
: a continuous graded change in measure, activity, or substance
vertical temperature gradient in a lake
a gradient in developmental activity in a seedling

Medical Definition

gradient

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

More from Merriam-Webster on gradient

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