at grade,
    1. on the same level: A railroad crosses a highway at grade.
    2. (of a stream bed) so adjusted to conditions of slope and the volume and speed of water that no gain or loss of sediment takes place.
    make the grade, to attain a specific goal; succeed: He'll never make the grade in medical school.
    up to grade, of the desired or required quality: This shipment is not up to grade.

Origin of grade

1505–15; < French: office < Latin gradus step, stage, degree, derivative of gradī to go, step, walk
Related formsmis·grade, verb, mis·grad·ed, mis·grad·ing.mis·grad·ed, adjectivemul·ti·grade, adjectiveo·ver·grade, verb (used with object), o·ver·grad·ed, o·ver·grad·ing.pre·grade, verb (used with object), pre·grad·ed, pre·grad·ing, nounre·grade, verb (used with object), re·grad·ed, re·grad·ing.un·grad·ed, adjectivewell-grad·ed, adjective

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

British Dictionary definitions for make the grade



a position or degree in a scale, as of quality, rank, size, or progressionsmall-grade eggs; high-grade timber
a group of people or things of the same category
mainly US a military or other rank
a stage in a course of progression
a mark or rating indicating achievement or the worth of work done, as at school
US and Canadian a unit of pupils of similar age or ability taught together at school
US and Canadian
  1. a part of a railway, road, etc, that slopes upwards or downwards; inclination
  2. Also called: gradienta measure of such a slope, esp the ratio of the vertical distance between two points on the slope to the horizontal distance between them
a unit of angle equal to one hundredth of a right angle or 0.9 degree
  1. an animal with one purebred parent and one of unknown or unimproved breeding
  2. (as modifier)a grade sheep Compare crossbred (def. 2), purebred (def. 2)
linguistics one of the forms of the vowel in a morpheme when this vowel varies because of gradation
at grade
  1. on the same level
  2. (of a river profile or land surface) at an equilibrium level and slope, because there is a balance between erosion and deposition
make the grade informal
  1. to reach the required standard
  2. to succeed


(tr) to arrange according to quality, rank, etc
(tr) to determine the grade of or assign a grade to
(intr) to achieve or deserve a grade or rank
to change or blend (something) gradually; merge
(tr) to level (ground, a road, etc) to a suitable gradient
(tr) stockbreeding to cross (one animal) with another to produce a grade animal

Word Origin for grade

C16: from French, from Latin gradus step, from gradī to 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 make the grade



1650s, "to arrange in grades," from grade (n.). Related: Graded; grading.



1510s, "degree of measurement," from French grade "grade, degree" (16c.), from Latin gradus "step, pace, gait, walk;" figuratively "a step, stage, degree," related to gradi "to walk, step, go," from PIE *ghredh- (cf. Lithuanian gridiju "to go, wander," Old Church Slavonic gredo "to come," Old Irish in-greinn "he pursues," and second element in congress, progress, etc.).

Replaced Middle English gree "step, degree in a series," from Old French grei "step," from Latin gradus. Railway sense is from 1811. Meaning "class of things having the same quality or value" is from 1807; meaning "division of a school curriculum equivalent to one year" is from 1835; that of "letter-mark indicating assessment of a student's work" is from 1886 (earlier used of numerical grades). Grade A "top quality, fit for human consumption" (originally of milk) is from a U.S. system instituted in 1912.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

make the grade in Science



The degree of inclination of a slope, road, or other surface.
A grouping of organisms done purely on the basis of shared features and without regard to evolutionary relationships. Grades may include organisms that do not share a common ancestor, or may exclude some organisms having the same common ancestor as the other organisms in the grade. For this reason, many taxonomists do not accept grades as formal classifications. The class Reptilia (reptiles) is a grade since it includes dinosaurs but not birds, even though birds are descended from dinosaurs. Compare clade.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with make the grade

make the grade

Satisfy the requirements, qualify; also, succeed. For example, Angela hoped her work in the new school would make the grade, or Barbara certainly has made the grade as a trial lawyer. This expression uses grade in the sense of “accepted standard.” [c. 1900]


see make the grade.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.