Meaning of DEGREE in English

I. də̇ˈgrē, dēˈ- noun

( -s )

Usage: often attributive

Etymology: Middle English , from Old French degré, from (assumed) Vulgar Latin degradus, from Latin de- + gradus step, pace — more at grade


a. obsolete : one member of a flight of steps or stairs

b. heraldry : a step (as of a Calvary cross) in a series — called also grece

c. archaic : a steplike member of a series (as of parts of a structure) : tier , bank


a. : a step in a process, course, or classificatory order

shall the shadow go forward ten degrees or go back ten degrees — 2 Kings 20:9 (Authorized Version)

b. : a stage or point of an advance or retrogression

rising by successive degrees to become general manager of the firm

c. : a measure of damage to tissue caused by disease or other force — compare class 3b, grade 1c(3)


a. : a grade or point observed in a measuring or estimating of an action, relation, state of being, or mental attitude

at a microphone they are men who know the pecuniary value of words inflated to the right degree — O.D.Duncan

the degree to which the total effect resembles nature — Michael Kitson

b. : the extent, measure, or scope of an action, condition, or relation

all of our presidents in varying degrees have experienced an intoxicating exhilaration in manipulating the levers of power — V.L.Albjerg

I considered my giddiness and inconstancy when in London as in a great degree the cause of her unhappiness — Benjamin Franklin

c. : level in the range and stress or accentuation of an attribute : relative efficacy : measure or dimension of an essential or distinctive quality

the mental powers of ants differ from those of men not so much in kind as in degree — John Lubbock

it is a question of degree whether I have been negligent — B.N.Cardozo

most of the distinctions of law are distinctions of degree — O.W.Holmes †1935

d. : a grade or point marking the attainment or existence of more or less of a quality, acquirement, or aspect : relative intensity

combined literary distinction with a high degree of historical objectivity — R.W.Van Alstyne

requiring a high degree of mastery in the chosen field of study

the precise degree of probability

e. : a positive and unquestionable though undefined quantitative measure and qualitative elevation

the duties owed by the trustee have a degree of definition and are enforceable before a court of equity — G.B.Hurff

the religious zeal of the Quakers was always tempered by a degree of tolerance — American Guide Series: Pennsylvania

f. : one of the forms or sets of forms used in the comparison of an adjective or adverb to denote a particular intensity or level of the quality, quantity, or relation expressed by the adjective or adverb — see comparative 1, positive 2a, superlative 1

g. : a legal measure of the culpability of one who commits any of certain crimes that depends on attendant circumstances defined by law

an offense in the first degree is usually the most serious; among the offenses classified in this manner are often found murder or robbery

h. : one of the legal classes of negligence (as gross, ordinary, or slight) graded according to the determined culpability of the tort-feasor

4. : a rank or grade of official, ecclesiastical, or social position or advancement

people of low degree were banished from the capital — E.R.Embree

clerical hats colored and tasselled according to their degree — Iain Moncreiffe

a certain well-to-do air about the man suggested that he was not poor for his degree — Thomas Hardy


a. archaic : a particular level, standing, or relative condition especially as to dignity, reputation, worth

for they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree — 1 Tim 3:13 (Authorized Version)

b. : the civil condition or status of a person

6. : a step in a direct line of descent or in the line of ascent to a common ancestor and thence in line of descent to relatives by consanguinity


a. : a grade or class of membership attained in a ritualistic order or society denoting a stage of proficiency often after a set ordeal or examination

b. : the formal ceremonies observed in the conferral of such a distinction

c. : a title conferred upon students by a college, university, or professional school upon completion of a unified program of study carrying a specified minimum of credits, passing of certain examinations, and often completion of a thesis or other independent research project — compare associate III 4b

d. : an academic title conferred honorarily in recognition of outstanding individual achievement outside the conferring institution

his writings brought him an award of the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters

8. archaic : a position or space on the earth or in the heavens as measured by degrees of latitude

9. : one of the divisions or intervals marked on a scale of a measuring instrument or a gauge

the length of a degree depends on the expansion of the thermometric substance used — A.H.Thiessen

10. : a 360th measure for arcs and angles


a. : the sum of the exponents of the variable factors of a monomial

a 2 b 3 c is of the sixth degree

b. : the sum of the exponents of the variables or unknowns of the term of highest degree in a polynomial or polynomial equation

c. : the greatest power of the derivative of highest order in a differential equation after the equation has been cleared of fractions with respect to the derivative

d²y/dx² - 2(dy/dx)² -4=0 is of the first degree

12. music

a. : a line or space of the staff — compare ledger line

b. : a step, note, or tone of a scale

the mediant is the third degree of the scale

13. logic : the rank of a predicate according to the number of terms related by it

“before” is a predicate of the second, “between” of the third degree

- by degrees

- to a degree

II. transitive verb

( degreed ; degreed ; degreeing ; degrees )

1. obsolete : to advance by steps or degrees

2. : to confer a degree upon

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.