Definition of gradual in English:



  • 1Taking place or progressing slowly or by degrees.

    ‘the gradual introduction of new methods’
    • ‘It has been a gradual progression to be more independent and develop myself personally that has resulted in the move to open my own nursery.’
    • ‘Careers were marked by a gradual progression, and training was offered by most employers.’
    • ‘Progress may be gradual, and there are likely to be setbacks.’
    • ‘Your progress should be gradual, starting off with one game a week, and working up to three.’
    • ‘The lights went up slowly, in a gradual buildup that didn't hurt the eyes.’
    • ‘Following this path of gradual introduction to public exhibitions through accumulated experience is the best way for anyone.’
    • ‘The only indication of their progress was the gradual change in vegetation.’
    • ‘His progress has been gradual, and forged through relentless hard work.’
    • ‘Once gradual progress is being made there is no need for immediate assistance.’
    • ‘If Graham had stayed, he would have approved of that gradual progression, but warned against the dangers of moving too fast, of doing too well.’
    • ‘Progression is not as rapid as I wish, but I am sated by the gradual marked progression that I can see and acknowledge.’
    • ‘Milan's coaches initially saw him as very much a future prospect, intending a ‘calm and gradual introduction to the side.’’
    • ‘Returning to the game wasn't a gradual progression.’
    • ‘Blake explains that the gradual progression of translating and interpreting the original texts lays the foundations for the shape of the finished product.’
    • ‘Her success has been a gradual progression over a 14-year career.’
    • ‘Some of you may choose a gradual progression from selling to friends, to selling at fairs and shows, to retail selling and so on.’
    • ‘It does not happen suddenly; it is more like a gradual ember of desire slowly building into a flame that could not be denied.’
    • ‘In the next five decades, from 1920 to 1970, gradual and quiet progress was made for woman in several areas.’
    • ‘The stages of the patient's progress through illness and gradual recovery are also charted in his physical passage through different types of wards.’
    • ‘Seedlings planted in raised sunny spots also enjoy a more gradual introduction to weather changes and are better able to withstand the colds of winter.’
    slow, moderate, measured, unhurried, restrained, cautious, circumspect, unspectacular
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  • 2(of a slope) not steep or abrupt.

    • ‘Some of the steep grades in earlier plans have also been made more gradual.’
    • ‘Hart took no notice and kept trekking down the gradual incline.’
    • ‘The differences in proportions are often small, and, furthermore they often follow gradual geographical clines rather than abrupt changes.’
    • ‘There is also some issue as to whether there are, in effect two slopes, being the gradual slope of the deck, and then a steeper slope from the deck towards the catch basin.’
    • ‘The fringing reef drops to 5m and a gradual slope of sand and coral boulders extends to the outer reef.’
    • ‘Then came a long and gradual slope down to a lake-filled valley, followed by a switchback road along which we overtook a pair of tough old hikers who were walking at quite a pace.’
    • ‘I do remember sitting in the exact same spot a few months ago, and then, the beach had a gradual slope to the ocean.’
    • ‘I lean away from him, straining to see what is just over the rise, but the gradual incline had turned into a steep drop and it was impossible to see what lay hidden.’
    • ‘It has a wonderfully smooth car park, with a gradual incline at one end.’
    • ‘Carrying such massive equipment, the difference of a few feet in height, or of riding up an easy, gradual slope, is very significant.’
    • ‘The orchestra seats slope upwards towards the stage in a gradual incline that makes the 9-foot-high stage seem even higher.’
    • ‘It is quite a shallow beach with only a gradual slope.’
    • ‘First there are steep stone steps, then a gradual rise, a levelling out, a swoop to the top and a steep drop to the stone steps on the other side.’
    • ‘I think it is a more gradual climb and less of an incline going up the mountain.’
    • ‘Our house sits on a fair bit of lawn, but it is all on a gradual incline.’
    • ‘Very rarely do pools have a gradual slope into the deep end.’
    • ‘Suddenly, it is as though we are cycling up a long, gradual slope.’
    • ‘We were nearing the top of the gradual incline we had been driving up ever since we'd left the main road.’
    • ‘Most terraces in Ohio are designed with gradual slopes to lead water safely into grass waterways or other suitable outlets.’
    gentle, not steep, moderate, slight, easy, subtle, imperceptible
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  • 1(in the Western Christian Church) a response sung or recited between the Epistle and Gospel in the Mass.

    • ‘The construction of the second movement is descended from plainchant graduals and hymns.’
    • ‘The chants set were Vespers responsories, Mass graduals, and alleluias, and perhaps some processional antiphons.’
    1. 1.1 A book of plainsong for the Mass.


Late Middle English: from medieval Latin gradualis, from Latin gradus ‘step’. The original sense of the adjective was ‘arranged in degrees’; the noun refers to the altar steps in a church, from which the antiphons were sung.