[ graj-oo-uhl ]
See synonyms for: gradualgradually on

  1. taking place, changing, moving, etc., by small degrees or little by little: gradual improvement in health.

  2. rising or descending at an even, moderate inclination: a gradual slope.

  1. Ecclesiastical.(often initial capital letter)

    • an antiphon sung between the Epistle and the Gospel in the Eucharistic service.

    • a book containing the words and music of the parts of the liturgy that are sung by the choir.

Origin of gradual

First recorded in 1375–1425; late Middle English, from Medieval Latin graduālis “pertaining to steps,” graduāle the part of the service sung as the choir stood on the altar steps, equivalent to Latin gradu(s) “step,” + -ālis adjective suffix; see grade, -al1

synonym study For gradual

1. See slow.

Other words for gradual

Opposites for gradual

Other words from gradual

  • grad·u·al·ly, adverb
  • grad·u·al·ness, noun
  • un·grad·u·al, adjective

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

How to use gradual in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for gradual


/ (ˈɡrædjʊəl) /

  1. occurring, developing, moving, etc, in small stages: a gradual improvement in health

  2. not steep or abrupt: a gradual slope

  1. (often capital) Christianity

    • an antiphon or group of several antiphons, usually from the Psalms, sung or recited immediately after the epistle at Mass

    • a book of plainsong containing the words and music of the parts of the Mass that are sung by the cantors and choir

Origin of gradual

C16: from Medieval Latin graduālis relating to steps, from Latin gradus a step

Derived forms of gradual

  • gradually, adverb
  • gradualness, noun

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