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gradual

[graj-oo-uh l]
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adjective
  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.
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noun
  1. Ecclesiastical. (often initial capital letter)
    1. an antiphon sung between the Epistle and the Gospel in the Eucharistic service.
    2. a book containing the words and music of the parts of the liturgy that are sung by the choir.
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Origin of gradual

1375–1425; late Middle English < 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, grade + -ālis -al1
Related formsgrad·u·al·ly, adverbgrad·u·al·ness, nounun·grad·u·al, adjectiveun·grad·u·al·ly, adverb

Synonyms

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2. gentle.

Synonym study

1. See slow.

Antonyms

1. sudden. 2. precipitous.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for gradually

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • These gradually died away in the distance, and were heard no more.

    Philothea

    Lydia Maria Child

  • But the tidings were gradually breaking in upon the mind of Andrew Lanning.

  • Gradually the image of the middle-aged Robin had effaced his youth.

  • Gradually the older girls saw that she would not save herself.

    K

    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • When they approached the entrance to the canyon, gradually Linda slowed down.

    Her Father's Daughter

    Gene Stratton-Porter


British Dictionary definitions for gradually

gradual

adjective
  1. occurring, developing, moving, etc, in small stagesa gradual improvement in health
  2. not steep or abrupta gradual slope
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noun
  1. (often capital) Christianity
    1. an antiphon or group of several antiphons, usually from the Psalms, sung or recited immediately after the epistle at Mass
    2. a book of plainsong containing the words and music of the parts of the Mass that are sung by the cantors and choir
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Derived Formsgradually, adverbgradualness, noun

Word Origin

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

adv.

1640s, from gradual + -ly (2).

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gradual

adj.

early 15c., "having steps or ridges," from Medieval Latin gradualis, from Latin gradus "step" (see grade). Meaning "arranged by degrees" is from 1540s; that of "taking place by degrees" is from 1690s.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper