Definition of gradual in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈɡraj(o͞o)əl/


1Taking place or progressing slowly or by degrees: the gradual introduction of new methods
More example sentences
  • Her success has been a gradual progression over a 14-year career.
  • Blake explains that the gradual progression of translating and interpreting the original texts lays the foundations for the shape of the finished product.
  • If Graham had stayed, he would have approved of that gradual progression, but warned against the dangers of moving too fast, of doing too well.
slow, measured, unhurried, cautious;
piecemeal, step-by-step, progressive, continuous, systematic, steady
1.1(Of a slope) not steep or abrupt.
Example sentences
  • Carrying such massive equipment, the difference of a few feet in height, or of riding up an easy, gradual slope, is very significant.
  • There is also some issue as to whether there are, in effect two slopes, being the gradual slope of the deck, and then a steeper slope from the deck towards the catch basin.
  • Then came a long and gradual slope down to a lake-filled valley, followed by a switchback road along which we overtook a pair of tough old hikers who were walking at quite a pace.
gentle, moderate, slight, easy


1(In the Western Christian Church) a response sung or recited between the Epistle and Gospel in the Mass.
Example sentences
  • The chants set were Vespers responsories, Mass graduals, and alleluias, and perhaps some processional antiphons.
  • The construction of the second movement is descended from plainchant graduals and hymns.
1.1A book of plainsong for the Mass.



Pronunciation: /ˈɡraj(o͞o)əlnəs/
Example sentences
  • Because of the gradualness with which the land slopes upward from the lake, I had no sense of climbing at all for the first half-hour.
  • It's said that the seeming gradualness of change in its early stages is fatally deceptive, that when the tipping point is reached disaster will unfold with the speed and force of a global avalanche.
  • The Catholic Church, as one is regularly reminded, is like a very big ship that turns slowly, and, in the gradualness of the turning, ‘turning points’ are hard to specify, but there is a sense that change is underway.


Late Middle English: from medieval Latin gradualis, from Latin gradus 'step'. The original sense of the adjective was 'arranged in degrees'; the noun refers to the altar steps in a church, from which the antiphons were sung.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: grad·u·al

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