gradual

adjective
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

gradual

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from gradual

Adjective

gradually adverb
gradualness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for gradual

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 French unions hailed the decision as a victory for workers, and said the resumption of activity would be gradual and voluntary, with half the workers returning between May 19 and 25 and the rest by June 2. Liz Alderman, BostonGlobe.com, "Amazon reaches deal with French unions in coronavirus safety dispute," 16 May 2020 French unions hailed the decision as a victory for workers, and said the resumption of activity would be gradual and voluntary, with half the workers returning between May 19 and 25 and the rest by June 2. Liz Alderman, New York Times, "Amazon Reaches Deal With French Unions in Coronavirus Safety Dispute," 16 May 2020 The nature of shopping itself has radically changed, moving away from slow, gradual browsing and deal-hunting, and toward quick, organized retrieval. Anne Nickoloff, cleveland, "Retail reopens in Ohio: Malls, shopping centers adopt cautious approach," 12 May 2020 Such examples of corporations helping a broader community are spurring hopes among some that the coronavirus crisis can hasten a shift – even if the steps may be modest and gradual – toward a more benevolent capitalism. Laurent Belsie, The Christian Science Monitor, "Is this crisis giving capitalism a moral nudge?," 8 May 2020 Tryon Creek is acting as something of a test case for the reopening of Oregon state park sites, a process that park officials said will be gradual and instituted on a case-by-case basis. oregonlive, "Hikers return to Tryon Creek in Portland as some Oregon state parks reopen," 6 May 2020 New York’s daily death toll from the novel coronavirusis continuing to drop, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday, and now health officials are closely studying the outbreak’s trajectory to determine whether its decline will be quick or gradual. Ben Chapman, WSJ, "New York Looks for Clues as Coronavirus Outbreak Hits Next Phase," 20 Apr. 2020 Our efforts to move forward with safely reopening Oregon will be gradual, incremental, and based on science and data. oregonlive, "Gov. Kate Brown extends Oregon coronavirus state of emergency to July 6," 2 May 2020 Even Newsom, who led the charge on social distancing, said Tuesday that a gradual, phased return to normal could begin in weeks rather than months. Steve Lopezcolumnist, Los Angeles Times, "Column: Don’t endanger your friends and family. Patience, please, and stay off the beach," 29 Apr. 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of gradual

Adjective

1658, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for gradual

Adjective

Medieval Latin gradualis, from Latin gradus

Noun

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about gradual

Time Traveler for gradual

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for gradual

Last Updated

22 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Gradual.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gradual. Accessed 3 Jun. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for gradual

gradual

adjective
How to pronounce gradual (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of gradual

: moving or changing in small amounts : happening in a slow way over a long period of time
: not steep

gradual

adjective
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.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on gradual

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gradual

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gradual

Spanish Central: Translation of gradual

Nglish: Translation of gradual for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of gradual for Arabic Speakers

Comments on gradual

What made you want to look up gradual? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

May 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a blooming wisteria tree
  • Which is a synonym of exiguous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!