Definition of gradation in English:



  • 1A scale or series of successive changes, stages, or degrees.

    ‘the Act fails to provide both a clear and defensible gradation of offences’
    • ‘Sparing no religious sentiments, Hunter explained: ‘There is a regular and continued gradation of these from the most imperfect of the animal, to the most perfect of the human species.’’
    • ‘Could we not trace out the gradation in the cat, horse, cow, sheep, fowl, etc, in a like manner?’
    • ‘The gradation of perfection in these aspects is quite apparent with the academic progress.’
    • ‘There must be some kind of gradation here in which stoats are classed as less obnoxious than weasels, although they are relatives.’
    • ‘Now you say these are very serious matters, terrorism, but do you not see any gradation at all in the range of terrorism related charges, that there may be less serious charges within the category?’
    • ‘Answering the question suggests that its construct is legitimate, that a candidate's patriotism is subject to qualification, gradation, and comparison.’
    • ‘We found a gradation in the degree to which females selected the leader.’
    • ‘A more refined gradation of offences could hardly be worse in this respect, and might improve the structure of sentencing for sexual offences.’
    • ‘These fossils constitute a gradation between Neandertals and modern humans, demonstrating that the distinction made by evolutionists is an artificial one.’
    • ‘In that context the Policy provides, in my view, a clear gradation of provision.’
    • ‘The contrasting results between these latitudinal regions of Scandinavia reflect a gradation in climate types; the southern regions are subject to a more maritime, rather than continental, climate.’
    • ‘Although they developed this model for the adult criminal justice system, with its elaborate gradations of offenses and levels of appeals, their framework can be applied to juvenile justice as well.’
    level, rank, position, standing, status, station, degree, grade, stage, standard, echelon, rung, point, mark, step, notch
    range, scale, gamut, spectrum, sweep, compass, span
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1An individual stage within a succession of changes, stages, or degrees.
      ‘gradations of size’
      • ‘I think what we have is a larger middle class with very fine gradations within it, and so the more important class distinctions are within what we might call the middle class - because we're all middle class now, or so we'd like to think.’
      • ‘Most authors have seen race as the fundamental category of empire, but Cannadine points to the importance of class, and of its hierarchical gradations.’
      • ‘Rather there are gradations and types of literacies, with a range of benefits closely related to the specific functions of literacy practices.’
      • ‘Now you have gradations of desire and expectation on the part of immigrants.’
      • ‘From here, there is a continuous series of gradations to gliding wings, and hence to flapping wings.’
      • ‘The molecular weights and boiling points display the usual gradations observed in other series.’
      • ‘The second meaning indicates gradations of quantity on thermometers or measuring cups.’
      • ‘Creating bonsai trees is, in fact, a fully developed art with its own philosophy, technique, tools, gradations and variety for the Japanese who evolved it into such a finesse.’
      • ‘These apparent gradations of honesty are a difficult concept.’
      • ‘There's a lot to learn on a camera that will go from fully automatic to manual with many gradations of control in between.’
      • ‘The number of gradations in our already segregated society will multiply.’
      • ‘If there is a continuum of gradations between human and nonhuman, there is a continuum between the type human as well.’
      • ‘The main structure of caste remains intact with its mutually exclusive communities, its carefully regulated gradations of rank, and the ban on intermarriage which prevents any fusion of classes.’
      • ‘However, not everyone knows there are two categories of shot, with two distinct size gradations.’
      • ‘The piano can provide subtle gradations of volume, but the piece doesn't call for that.’
      • ‘Science is not about certainties, it is about gradations and interpretations.’
      • ‘He is not by nature honest or open about anything, and has a hard time seeing the gradations that exist in normal human relations.’
      • ‘These internal sanctions allow a series of gradations.’
      • ‘Our key policies are gradations of detention so that people are held for as long as necessary for health and identity checks and then managed in Commonwealth facilities according to their claim.’
      • ‘The Beloit Journal published the membership lists of each committee, which together with the U.S. census, reveal clear gradations of wealth between the different levels of participants.’
      level, rank, position, standing, status, station, degree, grade, stage, standard, echelon, rung, point, mark, step, notch
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2A minute variation in shade, tone, or colour.
      ‘amorphous shapes in subtle gradations of green and blue’
      • ‘He is one of the new generation of pioneers in batik design, which he makes on textured woven fabric with the play of soft color gradation.’
      • ‘From pale blue and violet through green, yellow and orange, each painting concentrates on gradations of one color in horizontal bands that curve upward slightly at the center.’
      • ‘Not only offering the means to achieving differential gradations of colour and opacity, the process can also achieve true colour reproduction of photographs and complex graphics.’
      • ‘To obtain a darker color gradation, use double the amount of dye powder for each color.’
      • ‘If you choose a specific color, the gradations of said shade are slowly revealed.’
      • ‘Chemical photography can capture many more subtleties and gradations of colour and shade than digital.’
      • ‘It can be controlled so as to give large areas of flat colour, delicate gradations, or a fine mist.’
      • ‘The rest is overlaid by gradations of watered blue that have soaked into the canvas and recall stylized waves and clouds.’
      • ‘The rest of the class was able to blend the oil pastels on top of one another to create subtle gradations of white, grays and black.’
      • ‘Shadow detail is very good, capturing all the subtle gradations of darkness.’
      • ‘The drawing is notable for its wonderful use of soft pencil, which permits fine gradations of tone and texture.’
      • ‘His pictures are largely based on brown or grey schemes illuminated with vivid touches of colour, and are notable for their very subtle gradations of tone.’
      • ‘Greaves achieves considerable intensity on this tiny scale through his mastery of infinitely subtle tonal gradations, often in black and brown or gray hues that evoke the palette of old photographs.’
      • ‘The picture is nice and clear, fine details are razor-sharp, and shadowed areas show very good depth and subtle gradations.’
      • ‘Our ability to vary the ink droplet size means we can address more colors as well as subtle gradations between colors.’
      • ‘I get a yellow tint to my grayscale gradations (mainly in the lighter areas).’
      • ‘The techniques that we use for our gradations produces fabrics with dye coverage that includes the areas with lightest values and patterns.’
      • ‘And an hour later all the clothes I wanted to give to the Salvation Army were stuffed in a bag, and all the new clothes were arranged by color, and gradation of color.’
      • ‘I stop to marvel at its gradations of black and orange, its sheer size and delicacy.’
      • ‘Through the use of transparent and partially opaque inks, and the layering of subtle patterns and color gradations, Shinohara has created an intimate work of great depth on a variety of levels.’
      nuance, modulation, shading, degree, difference, variation, variety
      View synonyms
  • 2

    (in historical linguistics) another term for ablaut


Mid 16th century: from Latin gradatio(n-), based on gradus step.