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)

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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

But the winds will be particularly strong in this storm because of the massive change in air pressure over a relatively small region; this change is known as the pressure gradient and is what really drives wind speed. Jason Samenow, Washington Post, "Friday’s nor’easter may bring worst wind storm to Washington region since Sandy in 2012," 1 Mar. 2018 It's got 8 dye based inks for gradients and color, three of them solely for grayscale to allow for detail within your black and white prints. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Get a Big Price Cut on One of Canon's Best Printers," 17 Nov. 2017 According to one analysis, drafting becomes essentially irrelevant on gradients steeper than 7.2 percent. Alex Hutchinson, Outside Online, "You’re Faster with Friends, Even Uphill," 20 June 2018 The storm-force gusts are the result of a tight pressure gradient formed by a high pressure system to the north and low pressure to the south, combined with cold, dense air squeezing through mountain passes and river channels. Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News, "Howling winds trigger power outages and blowing-snow alerts," 29 Jan. 2018 Oppo isn’t the first phone company to be experimenting with color gradients, but the execution here is on point. Sam Byford, The Verge, "The OnePlus 6 is more than just a rebranded Oppo," 15 June 2018 The team used the standard machine learning technique of stochastic gradient descent to iteratively improve the two networks. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Google researchers created an amazing scene-rendering AI," 29 June 2018 To complete the audience, Abloh invited local design students, wooed by free T-shirts, to help cushion the crowds along his gradient catwalk. refinery29.com, "At Louis Vuitton, Virgil Abloh Brings Diversity To Paris Fashion Week," 21 June 2018 For context, the average gradient on Mont Ventoux is about 7.5 percent. Alex Hutchinson, Outside Online, "You’re Faster with Friends, Even Uphill," 20 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.

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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

21 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for gradient

The first known use of gradient was in 1835

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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

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