[grey-dey-shuh n]
See more synonyms for gradation on
  1. any process or change taking place through a series of stages, by degrees, or in a gradual manner.
  2. a stage, degree, or grade in such a series.
  3. the passing of one tint or shade of color to another, or one surface to another, by very small degrees, as in painting or sculpture.
  4. the act of grading.
  5. ablaut.
  6. Geology. the leveling of a land surface, resulting from the concerted action of erosion and deposition.

Origin of gradation

First recorded in 1530–40, gradation is from the Latin word gradātiōn- (stem of gradātiō). See grade, -ation
Related formsgra·da·tion·al, adjectivegra·da·tion·al·ly, adverbre·gra·da·tion, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for gradation

Contemporary Examples of gradation

Historical Examples of gradation

British Dictionary definitions for gradation


  1. a series of systematic stages; gradual progression
  2. (often plural) a stage or degree in such a series or progression
  3. the act or process of arranging or forming in stages, grades, etc, or of progressing evenly
  4. (in painting, drawing, or sculpture) transition from one colour, tone, or surface to another through a series of very slight changes
  5. linguistics any change in the quality or length of a vowel within a word indicating certain distinctions, such as inflectional or tense differentiationsSee ablaut
  6. geology the natural levelling of land as a result of the building up or wearing down of pre-existing formations
Derived Formsgradational, adjectivegradationally, adverb
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 gradation

1530s, "climax," from Middle French gradation (16c.) and directly from Latin gradationem (nominative gradatio) "ascent by steps, a climax," noun of action from gradus "step, degree" (see grade). Meaning "gradual change" is from 1540s. Related: Gradational.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

gradation in Science


  1. The process by which land is leveled off through erosion or the transportation or deposition of sediments, especially the process by which a riverbed is brought to a level where it is just able to transport the amount of sediment delivered to it.
  2. The proportion of particles (such as sand grains) of a given size within a sample of particulate material, such as soil or sandstone.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.