grad·​u·​al | \ ˈgra-jə-wəl How to pronounce gradual (audio) , -jəl, ˈgraj-wəl \

Definition of gradual

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : moving, changing, or developing by fine or often imperceptible degrees
2 : proceeding by steps or degrees


noun, often capitalized

Definition of gradual (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a book containing the choral parts of the Mass
2 : a pair of verses (as from the Psalms) proper after the Epistle in the Mass

Other Words from gradual


gradually adverb
gradualness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for gradual

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of gradual in a Sentence

Adjective We noticed a gradual change in temperature. The hospital has made gradual improvements in health care.
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective For a gradual approach that keeps lilac blooms coming every spring, try renewal pruning. Beth Botts, Chicago Tribune, 21 May 2022 But Van Noy is displeased with Holmoe’s gradual approach. Kevin Reynolds, The Salt Lake Tribune, 12 May 2022 It's been a gradual process, shaped by three web generations. Yec, Forbes, 26 Apr. 2022 That caricature, beloved by many but deemed grossly offensive by others, was retired from the team uniforms in 2019 as the franchise began a gradual process to distance itself from the old imagery and nickname. New York Times, 16 Apr. 2022 The administration says increasing oil output is a gradual process and the release would provide time to ramp up production. Arkansas Online, 1 Apr. 2022 The administration says increasing oil output is a gradual process and the release would provide time to ramp up production. Zeke Miller And Josh Boak, The Christian Science Monitor, 1 Apr. 2022 The gradual process of winning over Los Angeles starts with wins like this, as the Rams are certain to benefit from the two-week buildup to the Super Bowl that will be staged in the city. Dylan Hernández, Los Angeles Times, 31 Jan. 2022 Companies might just be catching up to consumer demand fluctuations as the economy continues to rebalance after the pandemic’s initial lockdown and gradual easing of restrictions. Colin Lodewick, Fortune, 27 May 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of gradual


1658, in the meaning defined at sense 2


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for gradual


Medieval Latin gradualis, from Latin gradus


Middle English, from Medieval Latin graduale, from Latin gradus step; from its being sung on the steps of the altar

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Time Traveler for gradual

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The first known use of gradual was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near gradual

gradocol membrane



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Last Updated

26 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Gradual.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Jul. 2022.

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More Definitions for gradual


grad·​u·​al | \ ˈgra-jə-wəl How to pronounce gradual (audio) \

Kids Definition of gradual

: moving or happening by steps or degrees We watched the gradual approach of the train.

Other Words from gradual

gradually adverb Rain gradually ended.

More from Merriam-Webster on gradual

Nglish: Translation of gradual for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of gradual for Arabic Speakers


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