Definition of grade in US English:



  • 1A particular level of rank, quality, proficiency, intensity, or value.

    ‘sea salt is usually available in coarse or fine grades’
    ‘grade AA butter’
    • ‘Use the finest grade of lime available at a reasonable price when surface applications are made.’
    • ‘Tensile fabric comes in different structural grades and colors.’
    • ‘Just be sure to use the gardening-grade perlite rocks and not the finer grade masonry-quality powder.’
    • ‘The one medicine that in every grade of society was valued above all others was Dr Williams' Pink Pills for Pale People.’
    • ‘All four semi-finalists will have the option of moving up to the lower tier of the new grade.’
    • ‘Use steel wool or a fine grade of sandpaper to smooth out the affected area and an inch or two of the surrounding floor.’
    • ‘The array of choices is dizzying, from different types of cows and grades of milk quality to the ability to breed hybrid vegetables.’
    • ‘A beeper and colored lights indicate the blade's position relative to the desired grade.’
    • ‘We stand ready to advise you on the period and particular hotels that will give best value for a specified grade of accommodation.’
    • ‘And not just the fruit, for they used the flowers in botanical medicines as well as in making a red dye, and the bark of the plant was helpful in tanning the finest grades of leather.’
    • ‘But the part of the process I loved most was the hand polishing with increasingly fine grades of sand paper done under running water.’
    • ‘There are four grades at this age level, A, B, C, D and the teams and supporters who make it to the finals turn it into a noisy wonderful occasion.’
    • ‘Usually the finer grades are used in the rubbing process.’
    • ‘I'll have to use the finest grade of wet sandpaper.’
    rank, level, echelon, standing, station, position, placing, class, status, order
    category, class, classification, grouping, group, set, section, bracket, division, type, brand
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A level in a salary or employment structure.
      • ‘The following are the ranks and corresponding pay grades within the Army, from lowest to highest.’
      • ‘The automaker was accused of unfair bias in giving older, white male employees lower grades, raises and rates of promotion than young women and minorities.’
      • ‘It said managers had been ranked into three grades, with the bottom 15 per cent losing their jobs.’
      • ‘Although most respondents were white collar staff, they covered a wide range of grades from office support staff to permanent secretary.’
      • ‘We desperately need a culture that values teamwork at all grades in the profession.’
      • ‘For example, there may be 10 salary grades (A to J) separated by increments of $1,000.’
      • ‘The strikers want the abolition of salary anomalies between staff employed on different grades at universities.’
      • ‘The dispute centres on the implementation of a 35-hour week which would bring guards in line with most other grades of staff employed by the company.’
      • ‘The majority of employees are the lower clerical grades, i.e. Clerical Officers, Executive Officers and Higher Executive Officers.’
      • ‘In central and local government, for example, the majority of employees in the lowest grades are women.’
      • ‘She also said employees on the same grade in different regions got paid different salaries for the same work, or the same salary for different hours.’
      • ‘Collier outlined that equal pay within salary grades is enforced by the University.’
      • ‘Following half a day of action in October and the threat of more strikes this week, management decided to reopen negotiations with a timetable to produce a system of pay grades by the end of February.’
      • ‘I think in order to build confidence and to ensure that black women are moving through ranks and grades, we need to have a positive action programme that analyses their particular needs.’
      • ‘In the same year the Ministry lost 39 employees from the lower grades, including clerks, interpreters and recorders.’
      • ‘A few years later he became a pilot and rose through the ranks to management grade by the time he was 30.’
      • ‘We have to have a structure and grades, because of our size and we have to work within those.’
      • ‘Under the council's offer, many employees on middle salary grades will only receive lump-sum payments with no cost-of-living increase.’
      • ‘The salary grades were framed according to different sports and the importance of each athlete to their team.’
      • ‘The second grade would command the rank of major or lieutenant colonel.’
      category, class, classification, grouping, group, set, section, bracket, division, type, brand
      rank, level, echelon, standing, station, position, placing, class, status, order
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 (in historical linguistics) one in a series of related root forms exhibiting ablaut.
    3. 1.3Zoology A group of animals at a similar evolutionary level.
      • ‘Pelycosaur, therapsid, and mammal represent three evolutionary grades in a single progressive evolutionary axis.’
      • ‘They argued that previous classifications failed to examine real lineages and tended to be based more on evolutionary grades.’
      • ‘The repeated appearance of higher grades was true long before primates, before mammals, or any vertebrates.’
      • ‘Thecodontia therefore is an evolutionary grade of animals, rather than a clade.’
      • ‘However, keep in mind that these are not clear evolutionary groups and probably represent a grade of organisms out of which the fern lineage emerged.’
  • 2North American A mark indicating the quality of a student's work.

    ‘I got good grades last semester’
    • ‘Yet it is mandatory that I give this student a grade; moreover, she herself wants an evaluation of her performance.’
    • ‘Students whose grades fell below 3.0 in the previous school year attend Summer Academy in their home city, rather than the Summer Institute.’
    • ‘Students with lower grades can still get into Southern if they score high enough on college-aptitude tests.’
    • ‘And it would also revise its code of practice on how students' grades related to the marks they score in their exams.’
    • ‘Teachers who hand out misleading grades thereby allow some students, already let down by a school system that has failed to prepare them adequately, to be blindsided.’
    • ‘If the awards were based instead on, say, high-school grades, many students would respond by choosing easy courses where an A is guaranteed.’
    • ‘Minimum matriculation requirements are at least two pass grades and university courses for which there is not strong demand might accept students with these grades.’
    • ‘Students compete for grades, they compete for awards, they compete for a place on the team.’
    • ‘The students who received passing grades earned them.’
    • ‘School records were used to obtain data on student grades and standardized test scores.’
    • ‘It is kind of like paying teachers more when their students get higher grades.’
    • ‘He is also concerned that they have led to significant grade inflation because they are closely tied to the grades that students expect to receive.’
    • ‘Brian noticed that students' grades were higher than those on previous unit quizzes.’
    • ‘That is, the higher the students' grades in high school, the more likely they would persist to meet their educational goals in college.’
    • ‘Under the admissions policy, 90 percent of students are accepted by grades and test scores alone.’
    • ‘Teachers often tell students their grades out loud, so that each person knows what grade the others received.’
    • ‘Students' grades are based primarily on teacher-designed or local tests, so the stakes for students are unclear.’
    • ‘Most commonly, he says, students complain about grades and faculty grading practices.’
    • ‘He found that students would achieve similar grades, whether or not they liked or enjoyed their teachers.’
    • ‘The students who take the course during their initial semester are making higher grades cumulatively.’
    mark, score, grading, assessment, evaluation, appraisal
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 (with specifying ordinal number) those students in a school or school system who are grouped by age or ability for teaching at a particular level for a year.
      ‘she teaches first grade’
      • ‘It gives home computers to students in the 3rd grade and up.’
      • ‘After a while, it seemed obvious that he didn't have the same skill, he was paired with Dale for a lab in the 7th grade and history was made.’
      • ‘Yuntardi was confused when his daughter Sekar, a first grade elementary pupil, asked him to register her in a school tennis course.’
      • ‘It is estimated that by the first grade, 5 percent of children have noticeable speech disorders, the majority of which have no known cause.’
      • ‘In the ninth grade, 81 percent of females and males were participating in physical education.’
      • ‘Only 7 percent of black children in the eighth grade read at a level of proficiency.’
      • ‘It is at the second grade reading level that you should begin monitor and track the areas of reading fluency and see a steady progress in the words per minute your child can read and comprehend.’
      • ‘The average fifth grader read at a second grade level.’
      • ‘Students in the upper grades do an internship two afternoons every week.’
      • ‘This Act proposes that every student in grades 3 through 8 will be proficient in reading and math.’
      • ‘Students in higher grades scored better than students in lower grades.’
      • ‘Did I fail to mention that I failed the part where we had to identify animals in first grade?’
      • ‘Beautiful weavings can be created by students in grades 3-6 with simple cardboard looms.’
      • ‘Every year, the students in all grades of my elementary school do a papier-mache project.’
      • ‘Students at all grade levels benefited from remedial summer school, but students in the earliest grades and in secondary school may benefit most.’
      class, form, study group, school group, set, stream, band
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2British An examination, especially in music.
      ‘I took grade five and got a distinction’
      • ‘She received an A for her seventh grade (the second highest level) music exams.’
      • ‘After her marriage, she appeared for the senior grade music examination in 1991 and passed it with distinction.’
      • ‘After seeing one of their public performances, a woman approached Mark and Angela in the supermarket about her 11-year-old daughter Sarah at grade one on the saxophone.’
  • 3North American A gradient or slope.

    ‘just over the crest of a long seven percent grade’
    • ‘I also noticed that the hill that the car rolled up was at a lower grade than the hill that the starting line was painted on.’
    • ‘Myrna and David visited a hillside azalea garden in a nearby park to walk the trails and get a feel for the different grades of slope.’
    • ‘Clark points out that some applications, such as parking lots, have so many different grades and slopes that the use of a trimmer becomes almost impossible.’
    • ‘Road construction has changed the hill grade from 11.5 per cent to eight’
    • ‘While you're outside, check that the grade around the house slopes away from it.’
    • ‘That would be like loading up your car and driving it up in the mountains at a 6% grade all day every day.’
    slope, gradient, incline, acclivity, declivity, tilt, angle
    View synonyms
  • 4usually as modifier A variety of cattle produced by crossing with a superior breed.

    ‘grade stock’
    • ‘Farmers must first secure a reasonable price for the better quality cattle, which is the mainstay of specialist feeders, and then work this price back for the lower grade cattle.’
    • ‘Indeed farmers with U grade stock have already reached the €2.94 / kg mark.’
    • ‘Slightly lower grade stock, still of an acceptable quality, was then imported at a cheaper price from other parts of the world.’
    • ‘Farmers should consider co-operating with friends and neighbours when selling R and U grade cows and thus add to their selling power.’
    • ‘Of the 15 factories with the lowest percentage of R grade bullocks over a three month period, 12 were Munster-based.’
    • ‘Trade was stronger at the top for R4L grade heifers with nine factories paying over 93c/lb.’
    • ‘Research proved that U to E grade females give poor fertility and are poor milkers, two very important traits required for breeding.’


[with object]
  • 1Arrange in or allocate to grades; class or sort.

    ‘they are graded according to thickness’
    ‘carefully graded exercises’
    • ‘Under the plans, sites used by travellers could be graded according to how much impact they have on the local community.’
    • ‘It's a gloomy prediction but what else are parents like us supposed to think when universities are graded according to their intake from the state sector and we have thrown in our lot with an independent school?’
    • ‘In such circumstances, there being no threat to life or injury, the police response was graded accordingly.’
    • ‘There are 16 classes of vehicle, graded by engine size and body-type.’
    • ‘The items and places of interest are graded with an asterisk rating (from zero to three) and much helpful information is given to tourists.’
    • ‘The survey broke each town into sites and graded each site accordingly.’
    • ‘Under the king was a carefully graded hierarchy of officials, ranging from the governors of provinces down through local mayors and tax collectors.’
    • ‘Replies to the 87 questions are graded in three categories - agree, disagree and undecided.’
    • ‘Performances are graded to compensate for size or population profile.’
    • ‘Applications are graded in date order; the earlier you apply the better your chance of being rewarded.’
    • ‘Voter education should extend to rating or grading the performance of an elected representative.’
    • ‘With the ultimate in timing equipment being installed drivers will be graded into four categories and awarded platinum, gold, silver and bronze medals once a year.’
    • ‘At the moment, 99.99% of the coffee beans grown in the area are mixed together, and the blemish-free ones are graded by size and shape.’
    • ‘Periodically, the oysters are graded for size and then put into bags of about 200, to be hardened.’
    • ‘And Malmesbury Hospital was graded green in both categories, one of 81 hospitals to achieve that distinction.’
    • ‘If other teachers have been placed in the promised grade it simply means that even those on the Copperbelt will eventually be graded accordingly.’
    • ‘They will become even more responsible if development in their constituencies is formally graded, ranked in order of merit and made public.’
    • ‘Premises applying for a licence will face a one-off fee followed by an annual charge which will be graded according to the size and location of the bar or pub.’
    • ‘He received the wool in huge bales and then graded it according to length and fineness, before despatching it to the cloth-maker or dealer.’
    • ‘He said the mining centre would enable miners to add value to their stones by preparing knocking, sorting and grading their gemstones before selling them.’
    classify, class, categorize, bracket, sort, group, order, arrange, type, pigeonhole, brand, size
    View synonyms
  • 2North American Give a mark to (a student or a piece of work).

    • ‘Have the students divide the tasks up among themselves, but grade each student based on the work of the whole group.’
    • ‘The students are then graded on how well they adapt various stylistic aspects of the artist's work into their own.’
    • ‘Of course there were differences because I graded the students in the university class, but not in the community class.’
    • ‘Linus worked 40 hours a week in the classroom and in the lab, and spent time preparing lessons and grading students papers in addition to his regular studies.’
    • ‘I'm not entirely comfortable with doing so, in part because I suspect much of the advice is particular to my class and how I grade exams.’
    • ‘Students are graded on each discussion based upon their ability to find information on topics and their ability to support both sides of the argument in the paper that they write.’
    • ‘To complete the course, the students are graded in a situational and field training exercise on all the above skills to determine whether they will qualify and graduate.’
    • ‘Obviously it's insane to spend more than fifteen minutes per paper/exam when grading a class of 100: just do the math!’
    • ‘A lecture on tips for effective presentations is given early in the curriculum and students are graded on presentation skills throughout the program.’
    • ‘The division of the A-level into AS and A2 stages has also increased the marking workload, as students are graded in both the first and second years of the course.’
    • ‘We should grade students on effort, not ability.’
    • ‘Berkeley students aren't getting written homework assignments because teachers are refusing to grade work on their own time after two years with no pay raise.’
    • ‘He still has to be fair in grading his students, and he can lose his job if he doesn't do that.’
    • ‘I require this evaluation form to be attached to the back of their project before I will grade their work.’
    • ‘Any teacher completing these books will never again be able to grade student work without questioning how and why that grading is taking place.’
    • ‘Each week, the teachers will grade the students - one will receive an A-grade making them top of the class.’
    • ‘During the group lesson, each student was graded by both their peers and me on their success in reaching their musical goal for that group lesson.’
    • ‘The government is also looking into replacing the Advanced Level exam with a system which would grade students on their work during the school year as well as in a sit-down exam.’
    • ‘This paper also serves as a substantial writing component in which students are graded for both grammar and content.’
    • ‘More reasonably, I'd grade the smaller class in four days, and the larger class in six days.’
    assess, mark, score, judge, evaluate, appraise
    View synonyms
  • 3no object Pass gradually from one level, especially a shade of color, into another.

    ‘the sky graded from blue to white on the horizon’
    • ‘The anterior is sloping, broad, without wings or ear, the rear wing in contrast gradually grading into the posterior margin.’
    • ‘Thus, deposition graded gradually from anoxic environments below the storm wave base to oxic environments above the storm wave base.’
    • ‘If the hypotheses of this research are correct, then equivalencies in a judoist's throwing side preference will emerge as he or she grades to the elite level.’
    • ‘In the fossil record, Neanderthals don't grade smoothly into Homo sapiens.’
    pass, shade, change, merge, blend, transmute, turn
    View synonyms
  • 4Reduce (a road) to an easy gradient.

    • ‘I have approached officials several times and a year ago they attempted to grade the road - the grader got stuck and they left the job incomplete.’
    • ‘He said a grader from the Zambia National Service had been acquired to grade the roads which had not been serviced for a long time.’
    • ‘Lodge explains that sonic sensors make grading a road much easier than with stakes.’
    • ‘Hardware on the excavation equipment then uses that elevation map to control the blade height automatically in order to grade the site properly.’
    • ‘The district has had to grade its roads in its quest to open up isolated villages to its administrative centre, Munyumbwe.’
    • ‘He said his ministry would grade all feeder roads in readiness for the marketing season.’
    • ‘There are well-laid, carefully graded paths for walking and for cycling, and some impressive looking recreation facilities.’
    • ‘However, the city council has already started grading the roads to be tarred soon under the local government-financed road rehabilitation programme.’
    • ‘This high desert area is dry in the summer when the Road Runners spend their time grading and graveling the roads.’
    • ‘He told the ministries in charge of roads not to grade roads without consulting members of Parliament.’
    • ‘Our first project after we graded the road was to dig a 10-acre-foot pond.’
    • ‘The volunteers at the reserve regularly grade the road and make sure that it is accessible.’
    • ‘The ability to shift the blade right and left comes in handy for slope and ditch work and for grading roads and parking lots.’
    • ‘LSO series inclinometers are suitable for use in paving, grading, bridge leveling, and other applications.’
    • ‘Norman got work as a roadman, clearing drains, grading roads and laying metal.’
    • ‘Also, they must excavate to remove foundations and basements, and they must grade the site at the completion of the demolition job.’
  • 5Cross (livestock) with a superior breed.

    • ‘The low percentage of cattle grading choice is most likely explained by the aggressive implant program utilized in this study.’


  • at grade

    • On the same level.

      ‘the crossing at grade of two streets’
      • ‘The total distance of the metro line will be 36.50 km of which 29.15 km will be elevated, 0.65 km at grade and 6.70 km will be underground.’
      • ‘Sharp said she decided to put the new plan forward because it became obvious Vancouver City council will not approve a light rail system built at grade through the city.’
      • ‘This track crossed it at a diamond, one of the last such crossings at grade with streetcars.’
      • ‘Planning requirements mean tall residential buildings have setbacks and open areas at grade, making the streetscape discontinuous and usually unpleasant.’
  • make the grade

    • informal Succeed; reach the desired standard.

      • ‘Only 600 establishments have made the grade and only those who surpass the high entry standards are eligible to compete for the national awards.’
      • ‘Also, making the grade, education in America, our special report tonight on where the best and worst teachers in the country end up working and why.’
      • ‘It is, of course, a big step up from playing regularly for the national Under-21 side to making the grade at full international level.’
      • ‘His story is typical of many Asian doctors working in Scotland but, until now, such complaints have been dismissed by many as excuses for not making the grade.’
      • ‘Now that it's clear how you deserve to be treated, what do you do if you decide a friendship isn't making the grade?’
      • ‘She quickly made the grade for England and reached the quarter-finals of the world championships in Thailand last year.’
      • ‘League tables released by the government today show that more pupils than ever scored five or more A - C grade GCSEs last year, with 51.5 per cent making the grade.’
      • ‘We look at why America's schools aren't making the grade.’
      • ‘The Indians came through the tough Olympic qualifying competitions before making the grade.’
      • ‘It's our politicians' image and style that aren't making the grade in the new post modern politics.’
      come up to standard, come up to scratch, qualify, pass, pass muster, measure up, measure up to expectation
      View synonyms


Early 16th century: from French, or from Latin gradus ‘step’. Originally used as a unit of measurement of angles (a degree of arc), the term later referred to degrees of merit or quality.