Definition of degree in English:



  • 1The amount, level, or extent to which something happens or is present.

    ‘a degree of caution is probably wise’
    mass noun ‘a question of degree’
    • ‘Now had they made that statement, I would have credited them with some degree of intelligence.’
    • ‘Instead it demands a considerable degree of autonomy and nurtures individualism.’
    • ‘The truth is that, despite a considerable degree of open debate, critics of the regime face severe repression.’
    • ‘In the past, and to a large degree in the present as well, many people studied English with people who couldn't speak it.’
    • ‘To my mind, what's really in doubt is the degree or amount of relevance of the text in question.’
    • ‘The art that the three emperors used to assert their power was based on an outstanding degree of craftsmanship directed to the service of the state.’
    • ‘The goal of this kind of programme is for students to achieve some degree of proficiency in the language.’
    • ‘Nevertheless, there seems to be a considerable degree of uncertainty in the present legal proceedings.’
    • ‘In varying degrees, they are present in this book.’
    • ‘The natural world, despite disruptions, displays a striking degree of order and regularity.’
    • ‘Other media can provide immediacy, and to varying degrees, some level of interactivity.’
    • ‘To what degree do you think that's going to change the social make-up of the people who live right by the coast?’
    • ‘Although there are no castes, there is a relatively high degree of social inequality.’
    • ‘More alarmingly, the degree and extent of the complicity involved is shredding the credibility of the Hierarchy.’
    • ‘I say that because to an extent, a degree of that happened on the race agenda.’
    • ‘But the potential investigators have been, to a considerable degree, otherwise occupied.’
    • ‘The molecules in each state have a different degree of order or randomness about them.’
    • ‘Businesses can't function without some degree of social responsibility.’
    • ‘The matters to which you refer certainly give that direct evidence a degree of credibility.’
    • ‘We have various levels of alert and degrees of readiness.’
    level, stage, point, rung, standard, grade, gradation, mark
    View synonyms
  • 2A unit of measurement of angles, one ninetieth of a right angle or the angle subtended by one three-hundred-and-sixtieth of the circumference of a circle.

    ‘set at an angle of 45 degrees’
    • ‘One antenna was rotated by 90 degrees in successive steps while data were recorded at each position.’
    • ‘You must state the angle (in radians or in degrees, your choice) and the reasoning behind your answer.’
    • ‘We turned 90 degrees for our descent, planning to head for the mainland between airways.’
    • ‘Open at an angle of forty-five degrees twisting the bottle, slowly letting the pressure build, while holding the cork.’
    • ‘A camera cannot capture a 360 degree panorama or the emotion you feel from direct experience.’
    • ‘The curve value is the number of degrees formed by the angle of intersection of these perpendiculars.’
    • ‘Three hollow rays diverge at angles of 120 degrees from the central part.’
    • ‘Those men also divided the complete circle into 360 degrees by taking the angle of the triangle as their fundamental unit and dividing this into 60 sub-units.’
    • ‘Be sure your cuts are at an angle of exactly 45 degrees.’
    • ‘A launch angle of about 12 degrees and a spin rate of 2,000 revolutions per minute is ideal for an above-average swing speed.’
    • ‘The sky was a very pale blue colour, with one sun a few degrees off of the direct center.’
    • ‘It was at altitude and was heading east at about 080 degrees and at an elevation angle of around 40 degrees.’
    • ‘Not being a whiz at geometry, I stared at the pattern for quite a while trying to figure out the formula for measuring the degrees of the angles.’
    • ‘The computer showed my ball speed was 150 miles per hour, my launch angle 14 degrees and my spin rate 4,400 revolutions per minute.’
    • ‘The direction of landing is what is critical here as landing a perfect trick requires the player to land at a perfect 180 degrees to their angle of takeoff.’
    • ‘The needle should enter the skin at 30 degrees and be directed parallel to the groove.’
    • ‘Even-spray nozzles are available with 80 degrees or 95 degrees spray angles.’
    • ‘I'm working on memorizing the sines, cosines, and tangents of degrees of a circle in terms of pi.’
    • ‘When one band finished, the stage turned 180 degrees and the other band began shortly after.’
    • ‘The new pier will extend 30 metres at an angle of 30 degrees to the existing pier and will provide much needed facilities for the fishing, island and tourist crafts.’
  • 3A unit in any of various scales of temperature, intensity, or hardness.

    ‘water boils at 100 degrees Celsius’
    • ‘After having cooled off for many billions of years, the temperature of this radiation is just a few degrees above absolute zero.’
    • ‘The parasite typically needs an ambient temperature of 20 degrees Celsius and an altitude of less than 2,000 metres to survive.’
    • ‘However, we borrow the basic measurement scale from physics and we measure the photographic colour temperature in degrees Kelvin.’
    • ‘If they stop moving altogether, the temperature drops to Absolute Zero which is - 273 degrees Centigrade.’
    • ‘If you have a meat thermometer, check that the internal temperature reaches 72 degrees Celsius.’
    • ‘They were also careful not to breathe from the regulators in the air, passing freezing condensate from their mouths into second stages that were several degrees below zero.’
    • ‘Try an oven temperature around 175 degrees Celsius.’
    • ‘The memory signal could not be detected at temperatures above 75 degrees Celsius, where the charges within the domains behave differently.’
    • ‘The alloys used in medical imaging superconduct only at supercold temperatures, about 450 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.’
    • ‘At constant depth, the temperature dropped almost twenty degrees.’
    • ‘December through to February are some of the best months to visit this tropical country, and the average temperature is 31 degrees centigrade.’
    • ‘You may have heard that water boils at 100 degrees centigrade.’
    • ‘In Thailand I was hit by waves of heat of more than 30 degrees centigrade immediately after stepping off the plane after a four-hour journey.’
    • ‘I started to get the chills on the descent despite the 95 degree heat.’
    • ‘Powered by a mighty nuclear fusion reactor with a core temperature of 100 million degrees that explosively vaporises the chilled liquid hydrogen propellant’
    • ‘When researchers bumped up temperatures in a simulated office from 68 to 77 degrees, keyboard errors fell by over 40 percent.’
    • ‘The workers were forced to manufacture radiator parts in temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius for between 12 to 20 hours a day.’
    • ‘Australian laws state all cheese has to be made of pasteurised milk where the milk is heated to around 70 degrees in order to kill bacteria.’
    • ‘This is the proportion by which the rate of a chemical reaction is raised by an increase in temperature of 10 degrees on the Celsius scale.’
    • ‘Most incandescent lamps operate with a color temperature of approximately 2900 degrees Kelvin.’
    1. 3.1in combination Each of a set of grades (usually three) used to classify burns according to their severity.
    2. 3.2often in combination A legal grade of crime or offence, especially murder.
      ‘second-degree murder’
      ‘criminal conduct in the first degree’
      • ‘A person is guilty of unlawful imprisonment in the first degree when he restrains another person under circumstances which expose the latter to a risk of serious physical injury.’
      • ‘If he is convicted of first-degree murder, that would also kick in whether there are special circumstances.’
      • ‘A person is guilty of kidnapping in the second degree if he or she intentionally abducts another person under circumstances not amounting to kidnapping in the first degree.’
      • ‘He was arrested that night and charged with 1st degree murder.’
      • ‘His new wife is being held as a material witness to first-degree murder.’
      • ‘There has been no cross examination of the Claimant with a view to establishing what degree of contributory negligence should be attributed to him.’
      • ‘She was indicted yesterday by the Grand Jury on the charge of murder in the first degree.’
      • ‘He was actually convicted of 2nd degree murder, reduced on appeal to manslaughter.’
      • ‘English criminal law has two degrees of homicide: murder and manslaughter.’
      • ‘After he turned down the plea bargain, a grand jury indicted Webb on fourth degree criminal contempt.’
      • ‘For the purposes of the criminal law there are degrees of negligence: and a very high degree of negligence is required to be proved before the felony is established.’
    3. 3.3often in combination A step in direct genealogical descent.
      ‘second-degree relatives’
      • ‘Who are relatives within the third degree of consanguinity or affinity?’
      • ‘Everyone on the same level is the same degree of cousin and is in the same generation.’
      • ‘Blood relationship in the direct line (i.e., between father and daughter, grandfather and granddaughter, etc.) invalidates marriage regardless of the degree of relationship.’
    4. 3.4Music A position in a musical scale, counting upwards from the tonic or fundamental note.
      ‘the lowered third degree of the scale’
      • ‘I achieved this not by starting the inverted form on the subdominant degree, but by modifying its tail at measure 47.’
      • ‘The reason that this chord is the best is because it contains the leading note (7th degree).’
      • ‘A minor, therefore, is related to a major key with its tonic on C, the mediant or third degree of the scale of A minor.’
    5. 3.5Mathematics The class into which an equation falls according to the highest power of unknowns or variables present.
      ‘an equation of the second degree’
      • ‘Bent over their computers, thirty savants were absorbed in equations of the ninety-fifth degree.’
      • ‘The algebraic solution of general equations of degree greater than four is always impossible.’
      • ‘In particular he worked on Galois theory, ideals and equations of the fifth degree.’
      • ‘The first person to claim that equations of degree 5 could not be solved algebraically was Ruffini.’
      • ‘The degree of the final equation resulting from any number of complete equations in the same number of unknowns, is equal to the product of the degrees of the equations.’
      • ‘In 1593 Roomen had proposed a problem which involved solving an equation of degree 45.’
    6. 3.6Grammar Any of the three steps on the scale of comparison of gradable adjectives and adverbs, namely positive, comparative, and superlative.
      • ‘Special attention is given to three generalizations regarding root suppletion in the comparative degree of adjectives (good-better, bad-worse).’
      • ‘The comparative and superlative degrees in adjectives are shown in two ways.’
      • ‘In Latin, however, one may also use the comparative degree to compare an entity with the norm or the average.’
      • ‘Here the superlative degree makes sense because we are comparing this year's crop to the crops from all earlier years’
    7. 3.7 A rank in an order of freemasonry.
      • ‘There are 33 degrees of initiation in freemasonry, the 33rd degree being the highest.’
      • ‘The Masonic medal shown in Plate XIII is what is known in the order as a Mark medal for a Freemason with degrees of the Mark Lodge and Royal Arch Masonry.’
    8. 3.8archaic A thing placed like a step in a series; a tier or row.
  • 4An academic rank conferred by a college or university after examination or after completion of a course, or conferred as an honour on a distinguished person.

    ‘a degree in zoology’
    • ‘Over a third of graduates are in jobs that do not require degree qualifications.’
    • ‘However, this is suggestive in that it appears very few programs require writing courses be taken in order to receive the degree.’
    • ‘I moved home with my parents after finishing my degree in order to work and save for graduate school.’
    • ‘She wants to see the parts of the world she has missed so far and would like to continue her studies to take a Master's degree in Social Policy and Criminology.’
    • ‘Tolstoy left the university in his third year, before ever getting his official degree.’
    • ‘Yet, corporates look for more than degree certificates from the young men and women whom they interview for jobs.’
    • ‘There are several routes a student can take in order to earn a degree in architecture.’
    • ‘Last month, the board approved new undergraduate degree programs in social work and marine science.’
    • ‘And if so, is a history or engineering degree a suitable qualification?’
    • ‘Most other master's degree programs also require additional education before accepting applied degree holders.’
    • ‘He got his first job on a film set while still studying for a social sciences degree at Glasgow University.’
    • ‘In the city, she quickly latched onto the more practical applications with an art therapy qualification, leading into a social work degree.’
    • ‘She got a job with VSO, sending doctors and nurses all over the world and went on to do a master's degree in social policy in developing countries.’
    • ‘It was while doing his social development studies degree that he got into acting.’
    • ‘A basic graduate degree, excellent communication skills, good grasp of English and a pleasant voice are all you need.’
    • ‘He later earned his master's and doctorate degrees from Harvard University.’
    • ‘I start my Master's degree officially tomorrow, though classes don't start for another month or so.’
    • ‘He took on a dozen jobs in the 1930s, finally taking a Bachelor of Commerce degree by correspondence and qualifying as a chartered accountant.’
    • ‘In order to earn her degree she had to undertake a media project and decided to bring to life a story close to her own family.’
    • ‘Actually he'd just passed his finals but hadn't received his degree so couldn't officially call himself doctor yet.’
  • 5archaic mass noun Social or official rank.

    ‘persons of unequal degree’
    • ‘People who confirm certain degree of public status often do public talk.’
    • ‘He was a lifelong member of St. Peter's Parish and a member of the Knights of Columbus as a third degree knight and fourth degree honorary knight.’
    • ‘Spanish and English courtiers were carefully intermingled in order of their degrees on the steps of the throne.’
    social class, social status, rank, position in society, standing in society
    View synonyms


  • by degrees

    • A little at a time; gradually.

      ‘rivalries and prejudice were by degrees fading out’
      • ‘It certainly feels as if I am relinquishing this city by degrees.’
      • ‘The yellow fades by degrees into a kind of cream.’
      • ‘While that may happen by degrees over time, he feels the town is not ready for more restrictions yet.’
      • ‘His search for such connections between forms and names has led him, by degrees, to the sculpture-installation.’
      • ‘It was only by degrees that I started to feel some kind of artistic calling.’
      • ‘The women look friendly enough, but life is wearing them down by degrees.’
      • ‘People are not born criminal, they grow into it by degrees.’
      • ‘As time went by, a subtle change began to overtake her, transforming her by degrees into another person hardly recognizable to her children.’
      • ‘Changes take place by degrees - there are moments of violence but the security is in the status quo.’
      • ‘In the water, the same process takes place as the child gains gradual control of balance and, by degrees, increases movement ability.’
      gradually, little by little, bit by bit, inch by inch, by stages, step by step, day by day, slowly, slowly but surely
      View synonyms
  • to a degree

    • 1To some extent.

      ‘to a degree, it is possible to educate oneself’
      • ‘So, you know, while they're friends to a degree, they're probably not above shoving the other guy out of the way.’
      • ‘He laughed heartily and I watched in awe as his waistline was stretched to a degree that I didn't think possible.’
      • ‘The discomfort with using rational self-interest as an underlying principle is understandable, to a degree.’
      • ‘Certainly, we're not saying that the way things are done in the industry is wonderful, and musicians are being exploited to a degree.’
      • ‘We benefit certainly to a degree, but how do you put a value on that?’
      • ‘And I think when you take it further, you'll find that the media is part of the problem too, to a degree.’
      • ‘I describe myself like you describe yourself - to a degree.’
      • ‘Further, I am influenced to a degree, I am bound to say, by this consideration.’
      • ‘It is possible to adjust to a degree, but it gets frustrating failing to pull of a move at critical moments.’
      • ‘And to a degree that frustrates and confounds the left, they frequently aren't stupid.’
      to some extent, to a certain extent, up to a point, to a limited extent
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1dated To a considerable extent.
        ‘the pressure you were put under must have been frustrating to a degree’
        • ‘Music punctuates our everyday lives to a degree that we rarely appreciate.’
        • ‘His analogy is insensitive to a degree that is almost unfathomable.’
        • ‘The music is the drama, to a degree that remains unrivalled.’
        • ‘Color, sound and geometry cooperate to a degree rarely seen in animated film, or in film at all for that matter.’
        • ‘In many ways Cold War cultural production was ideologically driven to a degree not seen before or since.’
        • ‘A series of climatic bouts in the ring highlight the movie's climax with realism to a degree that you want to turn your head.’
        • ‘She had a unique talent to spot a voice and she trained several young singers to a degree where they became renowned artists.’
        • ‘Its behaviour carried to a degree that would be hard to explain away.’
        • ‘But when you talk to them you realise that they're informed and opinionated to a degree very rare among young Britons.’
        • ‘He allowed me to participate in the making of these movies to a degree that not a lot of screenwriters experience.’


Middle English (in the senses ‘step’, ‘tier’, ‘rank’, or ‘relative state’): from Old French, based on Latin de- ‘down’ + gradus ‘step or grade’.