- the principle or policy of achieving some goal by gradual steps rather than by drastic change.
- Philosophy. a theory maintaining that two seemingly conflicting notions are not radically opposed, but are related by others partaking in varying degrees of the character of both.
- Biology. a tenet in evolutionary theory maintaining that species evolve slowly and continuously over long periods of geological time.
Compare punctuated equilibrium.
Origin of gradualism
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for gradualism
It also happened that the former Reform party accepted pragmatism and gradualism.Are Conservative Civil Wars a Good Idea?
March 4, 2013
Had they relied upon the experience of the liberal nations, they might have resigned themselves to a policy of gradualism.Government in Republican China
Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger
True conservatism is gradualism—the movement onward by slow, cautious, and firm steps—but still movement, and that onward.An Essay on Professional Ethics
But neither the civil rights leaders nor the White House could be put off with gradualism.Integration of the Armed Forces, 1940-1965
Morris J. MacGregor, Jr.
A statement of its results will, therefore, afford no small data for deciding upon the general principle of gradualism!The Anti-Slavery Examiner, Omnibus
American Anti-Slavery Society
He was on the Fourth of July a firm and earnest believer in the equity and efficacy of gradualism.William Lloyd Garrison
Archibald H. Grimke
- the policy of seeking to change something or achieve a goal gradually rather than quickly or violently, esp in politics
- the theory that explains major changes in rock strata, fossils, etc in terms of gradual evolutionary processes rather than sudden violent catastrophesCompare catastrophism
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Word Origin and History for gradualism
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
- The theory that new species evolve from existing species through gradual, often imperceptible changes rather than through abrupt, major changes. The small changes are believed to result in perceptible changes over long periods of time. Compare punctuated equilibrium.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.