by degrees, by easy stages; gradually: She grew angrier by degrees.
    to a degree,
    1. to a considerable extent; exceedingly.
    2. to a small extent; somewhat: He is to a degree difficult to get along with.

Origin of degree

1200–50; Middle English degre < 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, adjective
Can be confusedcertificate degree diploma license

Synonyms for degree Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for degree

Contemporary Examples of degree

Historical Examples of degree

British Dictionary definitions for degree



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
genealogy a step in a line of descent, used as a measure of the closeness of a blood relationship
grammar any of the forms of an adjective used to indicate relative amount or intensity: in English they are positive, comparative, and superlative
music any 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
  1. a unit of latitude or longitude, divided into 60 minutes, used to define points on the earth's surface or on the celestial sphere
  2. 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: °
  1. 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
  2. the greatest power of the highest order derivative in a differential equation
obsolete a step; rung
archaic a stage in social status or rank
by degrees little by little; gradually
to a degree somewhat; rather
degrees of frost See frost (def. 3)
Derived Formsdegreeless, adjective

Word Origin for degree

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

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for degree




A unit of measure on a temperature scale.
A division of a circle, equal to 1/360 of its circumference.
A position or rank within a graded series.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for degree



A unit division of a temperature scale.
  1. A unit for measuring an angle or an arc of a circle. One degree is 1360 of the circumference of a circle.
  2. This unit used to measure latitude or longitude on the Earth's surface.
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.

Culture 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.

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.