Definition of gradation in US English:



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

    ‘within the woodpecker family, there is a gradation of drilling ability’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Answering the question suggests that its construct is legitimate, that a candidate's patriotism is subject to qualification, gradation, and comparison.’
    • ‘Could we not trace out the gradation in the cat, horse, cow, sheep, fowl, etc, in a like manner?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘We found a gradation in the degree to which females selected the leader.’
    • ‘There must be some kind of gradation here in which stoats are classed as less obnoxious than weasels, although they are relatives.’
    • ‘The gradation of perfection in these aspects is quite apparent with the academic progress.’
    • ‘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?’
    range, scale, gamut, spectrum, sweep, compass, span
    level, rank, position, standing, status, station, degree, grade, stage, standard, echelon, rung, point, mark, step, notch
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    1. 1.1 A stage or change in a series of successive degrees.
      ‘minute gradations of distance’
      • ‘The molecular weights and boiling points display the usual gradations observed in other series.’
      • ‘These apparent gradations of honesty are a difficult concept.’
      • ‘He is not by nature honest or open about anything, and has a hard time seeing the gradations that exist in normal human relations.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘However, not everyone knows there are two categories of shot, with two distinct size gradations.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Science is not about certainties, it is about gradations and interpretations.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Most authors have seen race as the fundamental category of empire, but Cannadine points to the importance of class, and of its hierarchical 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If there is a continuum of gradations between human and nonhuman, there is a continuum between the type human as well.’
      • ‘The piano can provide subtle gradations of volume, but the piece doesn't call for that.’
      • ‘From here, there is a continuous series of gradations to gliding wings, and hence to flapping wings.’
      • ‘Rather there are gradations and types of literacies, with a range of benefits closely related to the specific functions of literacy practices.’
      • ‘The number of gradations in our already segregated society will multiply.’
      • ‘Now you have gradations of desire and expectation on the part of immigrants.’
      • ‘The second meaning indicates gradations of quantity on thermometers or measuring cups.’
      • ‘These internal sanctions allow a series of gradations.’
      • ‘There's a lot to learn on a camera that will go from fully automatic to manual with many gradations of control in between.’
    2. 1.2 A minute change from one shade, tone, or color to another.
      ‘amorphous shapes in subtle gradations of green and blue’
      • ‘It can be controlled so as to give large areas of flat colour, delicate gradations, or a fine mist.’
      • ‘I stop to marvel at its gradations of black and orange, its sheer size and delicacy.’
      • ‘Our ability to vary the ink droplet size means we can address more colors as well as subtle gradations between colors.’
      • ‘The drawing is notable for its wonderful use of soft pencil, which permits fine gradations of tone and texture.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Shadow detail is very good, capturing all the subtle gradations of darkness.’
      • ‘I get a yellow tint to my grayscale gradations (mainly in the lighter areas).’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The rest is overlaid by gradations of watered blue that have soaked into the canvas and recall stylized waves and clouds.’
      • ‘The techniques that we use for our gradations produces fabrics with dye coverage that includes the areas with lightest values and patterns.’
      • ‘To obtain a darker color gradation, use double the amount of dye powder for each color.’
      • ‘The picture is nice and clear, fine details are razor-sharp, and shadowed areas show very good depth and subtle gradations.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If you choose a specific color, the gradations of said shade are slowly revealed.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Chemical photography can capture many more subtleties and gradations of colour and shade than digital.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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
    3. 1.3
      (in historical linguistics) another term for ablaut


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