[noun, adjective graj-oo-it, -eyt; verb graj-oo-eyt]
See more synonyms for graduate on
  1. a person who has received a degree or diploma on completing a course of study, as in a university, college, or school.
  2. a student who holds the bachelor's or the first professional degree and is studying for an advanced degree.
  3. a graduated cylinder, used for measuring.
  1. of, relating to, or involved in academic study beyond the first or bachelor's degree: graduate courses in business; a graduate student.
  2. having an academic degree or diploma: a graduate engineer.
verb (used without object), grad·u·at·ed, grad·u·at·ing.
  1. to receive a degree or diploma on completing a course of study (often followed by from): She graduated from college in 1985.
  2. to pass by degrees; change gradually.
verb (used with object), grad·u·at·ed, grad·u·at·ing.
  1. to confer a degree upon, or to grant a diploma to, at the close of a course of study, as in a university, college, or school: Cornell graduated eighty students with honors.
  2. Informal. to receive a degree or diploma from: She graduated college in 1950.
  3. to arrange in grades or gradations; establish gradation in.
  4. to divide into or mark with degrees or other divisions, as the scale of a thermometer.

Origin of graduate

1375–1425; late Middle English < Medieval Latin graduātus (past participle of graduāre), equivalent to grad(us) grade, step + -u- thematic vowel + -ātus -ate1
Related formsgrad·u·a·tor, nounnon·grad·u·ate, nounsu·per·grad·u·ate, nounun·grad·u·at·ing, adjective

Usage note

In the sense “to receive a degree or diploma” graduate followed by from is the most common construction today: Her daughter graduated from Yale in 1981. The passive form was graduated from, formerly insisted upon as the only correct pattern, has decreased in use and occurs infrequently today: My husband was graduated from West Point last year.
Even though it is condemned by some as nonstandard, the use of graduate as a transitive verb meaning “to receive a degree or diploma from” is increasing in frequency in both speech and writing: The twins graduated high school in 1974. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for graduate

Contemporary Examples of graduate

Historical Examples of graduate

British Dictionary definitions for graduate


noun (ˈɡrædjʊɪt)
    1. a person who has been awarded a first degree from a university or college
    2. (as modifier)a graduate profession
  1. US and Canadian a student who has completed a course of studies at a high school and received a diploma
  2. US a container, such as a flask, marked to indicate its capacity
verb (ˈɡrædjʊˌeɪt)
  1. to receive or cause to receive a degree or diploma
  2. (tr) mainly US and Canadian to confer a degree, diploma, etc upon
  3. (tr) to mark (a thermometer, flask, etc) with units of measurement; calibrate
  4. (tr) to arrange or sort into groups according to type, quality, etc
  5. (intr often foll by to) to change by degrees (from something to something else)
Derived Formsgraduator, noun

Word Origin for graduate

C15: from Medieval Latin graduārī to take a degree, 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 graduate

early 15c., "one who holds a degree" (with man; as a stand-alone noun from mid-15c.), from Medieval Latin graduatus, past participle of graduari "to take a degree," from Latin gradus "step, grade" (see grade). As an adjective, from late 15c.


early 15c., "to confer a university degree upon," from Medieval Latin graduatus (see graduate (n.)). Intransitive sense from 1807. Related: Graduated; graduating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper