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Middle English, from Anglo-French degré, from Vulgar Latin *degradus, from Latin de- + gradus


  • 1 : a step or stage in a process, course, or order of classification <advanced by degrees>
  • 2 a : a rank or grade of official, ecclesiastical, or social position <people of low degree>
b archaic : a particular standing especially as to dignity or worth
c : the civil condition or status of a person
  • 3 : a step in a direct line of descent or in the line of ascent to a common ancestor
  • 4 a obsolete : step, stair
b archaic : a member of a series arranged in steps
  • 5 : a measure of damage to tissue caused by injury or disease — compare first-degree burn, second-degree burn, third-degree burn
  • 6 a : the extent, measure, or scope of an action, condition, or relation <different in degree but not in kind>
b : relative intensity <a high degree of stress>
c : one of the forms or sets of forms used in the comparison of an adjective or adverb
d : a legal measure of guilt or negligence <found guilty of robbery in the first degree>
  • 7 a : a title conferred on students by a college, university, or professional school on completion of a program of study
b : a grade of membership attained in a ritualistic order or society
c : an academic title conferred to honor distinguished achievement or service
d : the formal ceremonies observed in the conferral of such a distinction
  • 8 : a unit of measure for angles equal to an angle with its vertex at the center of a circle and its sides cutting off 1⁄360 of the circumference; also : a unit of measure for arcs of a circle equal to the amount of arc that subtends a central angle of one degree
  • 9 archaic : a position or space on the earth or in the heavens as measured by degrees of latitude
  • 10 a : a step, note, or tone of a musical scale
b : a line or space of the musical staff
  • 11 : one of the divisions or intervals marked on a scale of a measuring instrument; specifically : any of various units for measuring temperature
  • 12 a : the sum of the exponents of the variables in the term of highest degree in a polynomial, polynomial function, or polynomial equation
b : the sum of the exponents of the variable factors of a monomial
c : the greatest power of the derivative of highest order in a differential equation after the equation has been rationalized and cleared of fractions with respect to the derivative