grad·​u·​al·​ism ˈgra-jə-wə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce gradualism (audio)
: the policy of approaching a desired end by gradual stages
: the evolution of new species by gradual accumulation of small genetic changes over long periods of time
also : a theory or model of evolution emphasizing this compare punctuated equilibrium
gradualist noun or adjective
gradualistic adjective

Examples of gradualism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web And because of gradualism built into the tax code, comptrollers are just about to start feeling the full effects of the wave of defaults that started a few years ago, said Van Niewerburgh. Dylan Sloan, Fortune, 25 Feb. 2024 Still, our Judaism—if that’s the word for it—affirmed idiosyncrasy, worldliness, dignity, science, exegesis, law, property, gradualism, poetic license, peace, freedom, memory, and humor. Jordan Castro, Harper's Magazine, 9 Jan. 2024 Other arenas of the war can also benefit from gradualism. Austin Carson, Foreign Affairs, 14 Sep. 2023 At critical moments, political leaders and military commanders in the West have chosen gradualism. Austin Carson, Foreign Affairs, 14 Sep. 2023 Xi rejected Deng’s gradualism and the notion that China was doomed to an indefinite future of developmental imperfection and class inequality. Kevin Rudd, Foreign Affairs, 10 Oct. 2022 This phyletic gradualism and the scale independence of evolutionary process has been challenged, in particular from the domain of developmental biology (albeit, not all ,or even most, developmental biologists). Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 16 Sep. 2010 That gradualism is what Hernandez is banking on. Gustavo Arellanocolumnist, Los Angeles Times, 7 Nov. 2022 But there are also arguments for gradualism. New York Times, 25 Jan. 2022

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

Word History

First Known Use

1835, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of gradualism was in 1835

Dictionary Entries Near gradualism

Cite this Entry

“Gradualism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


grad·​u·​al·​ism ˈgraj-(ə-)wəl-ˌiz-əm How to pronounce gradualism (audio)
: the policy of approaching a desired goal by gradual stages
gradualist noun or adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on gradualism

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