any of a series of steps or stages, as in a process or course of action; a point in any scale.

a stage or point in or as if in progression or retrogression: We followed the degrees of her recovery with joy.

a stage in a scale of intensity or amount: a high degree of mastery.

extent, measure, scope, or the like: To what degree will he cooperate?

a stage in a scale of rank or station; relative standing in society, business, etc.: His uncouth behavior showed him to be a man of low degree.

Education. an academic title conferred by universities and colleges as an indication of the completion of a course of study, or as an honorary recognition of achievement.

a unit of measure, as of temperature or pressure, marked off on the scale of a measuring instrument: This thermometer shows a scale of degrees between only 20° and 40° C.

Geometry. the 360th part of a complete angle or turn, often represented by the sign°, as in 45°, which is read as 45 degrees.Compare angle^{1}(def 1c).

the distinctive classification of a crime according to its gravity: murder in the first degree.

Grammar. one of the parallel formations of adjectives and adverbs used to express differences in quality, quantity, or intensity. In English, low and careful are the positive degree, lower and more careful are the comparative degree, lowest and most careful are the superlative degree.

Mathematics.

the sum of the exponents of the variables in an algebraic term: x3 and 2x2y are terms of degree three.

the term of highest degree of a given equation or polynomial: The expression 3x2y + y2+ 1 is of degree three.

the exponent of the derivative of highest order appearing in a given differential equation.

Music. a tone or step of the scale.

Astrology. any of the 360 equal divisions of the ecliptic measured counterclockwise from the vernal equinox. Each of the 12 signs of the zodiac contains 30 degrees.

a certain distance or remove in the line of descent, determining the proximity of relationship: a cousin of the second degree.

Archaic. a line or point on the earth or the celestial sphere, as defined by degrees of latitude.

Obsolete. a step, as of a stair.

Idioms

by degrees, by easy stages; gradually: She grew angrier by degrees.

to a degree,

to a considerable extent; exceedingly.

to a small extent; somewhat: He is to a degree difficult to get along with.

Origin of degree

1200–50;Middle Englishdegre < Anglo-French,Old French < Vulgar Latin*dēgradus; see de-, grade

Related formsde·greed, adjectivede·gree·less, adjectivepre·de·gree, nounun·de·greed, adjectiveun·der·de·greed, adjectiveCan be confusedcertificatedegreediplomalicense

a stage in a scale of relative amount or intensitya high degree of competence

an academic award conferred by a university or college on successful completion of a course or as an honorary distinction (honorary degree)

any of three categories of seriousness of a burnSee burn 1 (def. 23)

(in the US) any of the categories into which a crime is divided according to its seriousnessfirst-degree murder

genealogya step in a line of descent, used as a measure of the closeness of a blood relationship

grammarany of the forms of an adjective used to indicate relative amount or intensity: in English they are positive, comparative, and superlative

musicany note of a diatonic scale relative to the other notes in that scaleD is the second degree of the scale of C major

a unit of temperature on a specified scalethe normal body temperature of man is 36.8 degrees Celsius Symbol: ° See also Celsius scale, Fahrenheit scale

a measure of angle equal to one three-hundred-and-sixtieth of the angle traced by one complete revolution of a line about one of its endsSymbol: ° See also minute 1, second 2 (def. 1a) Compare radian

a unit of latitude or longitude, divided into 60 minutes, used to define points on the earth's surface or on the celestial sphere

a point or line defined by units of latitude and/or longitude

Symbol: °

a unit on any of several scales of measurement, as for alcohol content or specific gravitySymbol: °

maths

the highest power or the sum of the powers of any term in a polynomial or by itselfx 4 + x + 3 and xyz ² are of the fourth degree

the greatest power of the highest order derivative in a differential equation

early 13c., from Old French degré (12c.) "a step (of a stair), pace, degree (of relationship), academic degree; rank, status, position," said to be from Vulgar Latin *degradus "a step," from Late Latin degredare, from Latin de- "down" (see de-) + gradus "step" (see grade (n.)).

Most modern senses date from Middle English, from notion of a hierarchy of steps. Meaning "a grade of crime" is 1670s; that of "a unit of temperature" is from 1727. The division of the circle into 360 degrees was known in Babylon and Egypt. It is perhaps from the daily motion of the sun through the zodiac in the course of a year.

In geometry, a unit of measurement of angles, 1/360 of a circle. In physics, a unit of temperature (seeCelsius, Fahrenheit (see also Fahrenheit), andKelvin scale). A degree on the Fahrenheit scale is smaller than a degree on the Celsius or Kelvin scale. Degrees on the Celsius and Kelvin scales are the same size.

Gradually, by successive steps or stages. For example, By degrees he began to delegate more and more of his duties to his staff. [Mid-1500s] Also see by inches.

degree

see by degrees; third degree; to some degree; to the nth degree.