[ dih-gree ]
See synonyms for: degreedegrees on

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

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

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

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

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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 angle1 (def. 1c).

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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. Music. a tone or step of the scale.

  11. 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.

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

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

  14. Obsolete. a step, as of a stair.

Idioms about degree

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

  2. 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

First recorded in 1200–50; Middle English degre, from Anglo-French, Old French, from unattested Vulgar Latin dēgradus; see de-, grade

Other words for degree

Other words from degree

  • de·greed, adjective
  • de·gree·less, adjective
  • pre·de·gree, noun

Words that may be confused with degree

Words Nearby degree Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use degree in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for degree


/ (dɪˈɡriː) /

  1. a stage in a scale of relative amount or intensity: a high degree of competence

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

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

  2. (in the US) any of the categories into which a crime is divided according to its seriousness: first-degree murder

  3. genealogy a step in a line of descent, used as a measure of the closeness of a blood relationship

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

  5. music any note of a diatonic scale relative to the other notes in that scale: D is the second degree of the scale of C major

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

  7. 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 ends: Symbol: ° See also minute 1, second 2 (def. 1a) Compare radian

  8. : Symbol: °

    • 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

  9. a unit on any of several scales of measurement, as for alcohol content or specific gravity: Symbol: °

  10. maths

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

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

  11. obsolete a step; rung

  12. archaic a stage in social status or rank

  13. by degrees little by little; gradually

  14. to a degree somewhat; rather

  15. degrees of frost See frost (def. 3)

Origin of degree

C13: from Old French degre, from Latin de- + gradus step, grade

Derived forms of degree

  • degreeless, adjective

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

Scientific definitions for degree


[ dĭ-grē ]

  1. A unit division of a temperature scale.

    • A unit for measuring an angle or an arc of a circle. One degree is 1360 of the circumference of a circle.

    • This unit used to measure latitude or longitude on the Earth's surface.

  1. The greatest sum of the exponents of the variables in a term of a polynomial or polynomial equation. For example, x3 + 2xy + x is of the third degree.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for degree


In geometry, a unit of measurement of angles, 1/360 of a circle. In physics, a unit of temperature (see Celsius, Fahrenheit (see also Fahrenheit), and Kelvin 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.

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.

Other Idioms and Phrases with degree


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

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.