Definition of degree in English:

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Pronunciation: /dəˈɡrē/


1 [in singular] The amount, level, or extent to which something happens or is present: a degree of caution is probably wise a question of degree
More example sentences
  • Instead it demands a considerable degree of autonomy and nurtures individualism.
  • More alarmingly, the degree and extent of the complicity involved is shredding the credibility of the Hierarchy.
  • Nevertheless, there seems to be a considerable degree of uncertainty in the present legal proceedings.
level, standard, grade, mark;
amount, extent, measure;
magnitude, intensity, strength;
proportion, ratio
2A unit of measurement of angles, one three-hundred-and-sixtieth of the circumference of a circle: set at an angle of 45 degrees (Symbol: °)
More example sentences
  • Those men also divided the complete circle into 360 degrees by taking the angle of the triangle as their fundamental unit and dividing this into 60 sub-units.
  • Not being a whiz at geometry, I stared at the pattern for quite a while trying to figure out the formula for measuring the degrees of the angles.
  • The computer showed my ball speed was 150 miles per hour, my launch angle 14 degrees and my spin rate 4,400 revolutions per minute.
3A stage in a scale or series, in particular.
3.1A unit in any of various scales of temperature, intensity, or hardness: water boils at 100 degrees Celsius (Symbol: °)
More example sentences
  • This is the proportion by which the rate of a chemical reaction is raised by an increase in temperature of 10 degrees on the Celsius scale.
  • However, we borrow the basic measurement scale from physics and we measure the photographic colour temperature in degrees Kelvin.
  • The memory signal could not be detected at temperatures above 75 degrees Celsius, where the charges within the domains behave differently.
3.2 [in combination] Each of a set of grades (usually three) used to classify burns according to their severity. See first-degree, second-degree, third-degree.
3.3 [in combination] A legal grade of crime or offense, especially murder: second-degree murder criminal conduct in the first degree
More example sentences
  • English criminal law has two degrees of homicide: murder and manslaughter.
  • There has been no cross examination of the Claimant with a view to establishing what degree of contributory negligence should be attributed to him.
  • He was actually convicted of 2nd degree murder, reduced on appeal to manslaughter.
3.4 [often in combination] A step in direct genealogical descent: second-degree relatives
More example sentences
  • Everyone on the same level is the same degree of cousin and is in the same generation.
  • Who are relatives within the third degree of consanguinity or affinity?
  • Blood relationship in the direct line (i.e., between father and daughter, grandfather and granddaughter, etc.) invalidates marriage regardless of the degree of relationship.
3.5 Music A position in a musical scale, counting upward from the tonic or fundamental note: the lowered third degree of the scale
More example sentences
  • I achieved this not by starting the inverted form on the subdominant degree, but by modifying its tail at measure 47.
  • The reason that this chord is the best is because it contains the leading note (7th degree).
  • A minor, therefore, is related to a major key with its tonic on C, the mediant or third degree of the scale of A minor.
3.6 Mathematics The class into which an equation falls according to the highest power of unknowns or variables present: an equation of the second degree
More example sentences
  • In particular he worked on Galois theory, ideals and equations of the fifth degree.
  • The degree of the final equation resulting from any number of complete equations in the same number of unknowns, is equal to the product of the degrees of the equations.
  • The first person to claim that equations of degree 5 could not be solved algebraically was Ruffini.
3.7 Grammar Any of the three steps on the scale of comparison of gradable adjectives and adverbs, namely positive, comparative, and superlative.
Example sentences
  • The comparative and superlative degrees in adjectives are shown in two ways.
  • Here the superlative degree makes sense because we are comparing this year's crop to the crops from all earlier years
  • Special attention is given to three generalizations regarding root suppletion in the comparative degree of adjectives (good-better, bad-worse).
3.8 archaic A thing placed like a step in a series; a tier or row.
4An academic rank conferred by a college or university after examination or after completion of a course of study, or conferred as an honor on a distinguished person: a degree in zoology
More example sentences
  • He later earned his master's and doctorate degrees from Harvard University.
  • There are several routes a student can take in order to earn a degree in architecture.
  • I moved home with my parents after finishing my degree in order to work and save for graduate school.
diploma, academic program;
baccalaureate, bachelor's, master's, doctorate, Ph.D.
4.1 archaic Social or official rank: persons of unequal degree
More example sentences
  • People who confirm certain degree of public status often do public talk.
  • He was a lifelong member of St. Peter's Parish and a member of the Knights of Columbus as a third degree knight and fourth degree honorary knight.
  • Spanish and English courtiers were carefully intermingled in order of their degrees on the steps of the throne.
4.2A rank in an order of Freemasonry.
Example sentences
  • The Masonic medal shown in Plate XIII is what is known in the order as a Mark medal for a Freemason with degrees of the Mark Lodge and Royal Arch Masonry.
  • There are 33 degrees of initiation in freemasonry, the 33rd degree being the highest.



by degrees

A little at a time; gradually: rivalries and prejudice were by degrees fading out
More example sentences
  • The yellow fades by degrees into a kind of cream.
  • In the water, the same process takes place as the child gains gradual control of balance and, by degrees, increases movement ability.
  • Changes take place by degrees - there are moments of violence but the security is in the status quo.
gradually, little by little, bit by bit, inch by inch, step by step, slowly;

to a degree

To some extent: to a degree, it is possible to educate oneself
More example sentences
  • It is possible to adjust to a degree, but it gets frustrating failing to pull of a move at critical moments.
  • He laughed heartily and I watched in awe as his waistline was stretched to a degree that I didn't think possible.
  • Further, I am influenced to a degree, I am bound to say, by this consideration.
to some extent, to a certain extent, up to a point, somewhat
dated2.1 To a considerable extent: the pressure you were put under must have been frustrating to a degree
More example sentences
  • His analogy is insensitive to a degree that is almost unfathomable.
  • Color, sound and geometry cooperate to a degree rarely seen in animated film, or in film at all for that matter.
  • In many ways Cold War cultural production was ideologically driven to a degree not seen before or since.


Middle English (in the senses 'step', 'tier', 'rank', or 'relative state'): from Old French, based on Latin de- 'down' + gradus 'step or grade'.

  • The source of degree is a French word based on Latin de- ‘down’ and gradus ‘step’ source of grade. Early senses of the word include ‘step, tier’, ‘rank’ and ‘relative state’. The use of degree for an academic qualification came from the medieval Mastership or Doctorate, which was attained in stages or degrees. The ‘step’ sense is found in the geometrical use (Late Middle English), measurement of heat (early 18th century), and in the expression by degrees or step by step.

Words that rhyme with degree

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For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: de·gree

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