Definition of grade in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ɡrād/


1A particular level of rank, quality, proficiency, intensity, or value: sea salt is usually available in coarse or fine grades grade AA butter
More example sentences
  • We stand ready to advise you on the period and particular hotels that will give best value for a specified grade of accommodation.
  • But the part of the process I loved most was the hand polishing with increasingly fine grades of sand paper done under running water.
  • I'll have to use the finest grade of wet sandpaper.
category, set, class, classification, grouping, group, bracket
1.1A level in a salary or employment structure.
Example sentences
  • Under the council's offer, many employees on middle salary grades will only receive lump-sum payments with no cost-of-living increase.
  • She also said employees on the same grade in different regions got paid different salaries for the same work, or the same salary for different hours.
  • Although most respondents were white collar staff, they covered a wide range of grades from office support staff to permanent secretary.
rank, level, echelon, standing, position, class, status, order;
step, rung, stratum, tier
1.2chiefly North American A mark indicating the quality of a student’s work: I got good grades last semester
More example sentences
  • And it would also revise its code of practice on how students' grades related to the marks they score in their exams.
  • If the awards were based instead on, say, high-school grades, many students would respond by choosing easy courses where an A is guaranteed.
  • That is, the higher the students' grades in high school, the more likely they would persist to meet their educational goals in college.
mark, score;
assessment, evaluation, appraisal
1.3British An examination, especially in music: I took grade five and got a distinction
More example sentences
  • After her marriage, she appeared for the senior grade music examination in 1991 and passed it with distinction.
  • She received an A for her seventh grade (the second highest level) music exams.
  • After seeing one of their public performances, a woman approached Mark and Angela in the supermarket about her 11-year-old daughter Sarah at grade one on the saxophone.
1.4(With specifying ordinal number) those students in a school or school system who are grouped by age or ability for teaching at a particular level for a year: she teaches first grade
More example sentences
  • Yuntardi was confused when his daughter Sekar, a first grade elementary pupil, asked him to register her in a school tennis course.
  • Students in higher grades scored better than students in lower grades.
  • Every year, the students in all grades of my elementary school do a papier-mache project.
1.5(In historical linguistics) one in a series of related root forms exhibiting ablaut.
1.6 Zoology A group of animals at a similar evolutionary level.
Example sentences
  • Thecodontia therefore is an evolutionary grade of animals, rather than a clade.
  • They argued that previous classifications failed to examine real lineages and tended to be based more on evolutionary grades.
  • Pelycosaur, therapsid, and mammal represent three evolutionary grades in a single progressive evolutionary axis.
2chiefly North American A gradient or slope: just over the crest of a long seven percent grade
More example sentences
  • Clark points out that some applications, such as parking lots, have so many different grades and slopes that the use of a trimmer becomes almost impossible.
  • Myrna and David visited a hillside azalea garden in a nearby park to walk the trails and get a feel for the different grades of slope.
  • While you're outside, check that the grade around the house slopes away from it.
3 [usually as modifier] A variety of cattle produced by crossing with a superior breed: grade stock
More example sentences
  • Trade was stronger at the top for R4L grade heifers with nine factories paying over 93c/lb.
  • Indeed farmers with U grade stock have already reached the €2.94 / kg mark.
  • Farmers must first secure a reasonable price for the better quality cattle, which is the mainstay of specialist feeders, and then work this price back for the lower grade cattle.


[with object] (usually be graded)
1Arrange in or allocate to grades; class or sort: they are graded according to thickness (as adjective graded) carefully graded exercises
More example sentences
  • He said the mining centre would enable miners to add value to their stones by preparing knocking, sorting and grading their gemstones before selling them.
  • They will become even more responsible if development in their constituencies is formally graded, ranked in order of merit and made public.
  • There are 16 classes of vehicle, graded by engine size and body-type.
classify, class, categorize, bracket, sort, group, arrange, pigeonhole;
rank, evaluate, rate, value
1.1chiefly North American Give a mark to (a student or a piece of work).
Example sentences
  • Any teacher completing these books will never again be able to grade student work without questioning how and why that grading is taking place.
  • I require this evaluation form to be attached to the back of their project before I will grade their work.
  • The students are then graded on how well they adapt various stylistic aspects of the artist's work into their own.
score, mark, assess, judge, evaluate, appraise
2 [no object] Pass gradually from one level, especially a shade of color, into another: the sky graded from blue to white on the horizon
More example sentences
  • If the hypotheses of this research are correct, then equivalencies in a judoist's throwing side preference will emerge as he or she grades to the elite level.
  • Thus, deposition graded gradually from anoxic environments below the storm wave base to oxic environments above the storm wave base.
  • The anterior is sloping, broad, without wings or ear, the rear wing in contrast gradually grading into the posterior margin.
blend, shade, merge, pass
3Reduce (a road) to an easy gradient.
Example sentences
  • Lodge explains that sonic sensors make grading a road much easier than with stakes.
  • Norman got work as a roadman, clearing drains, grading roads and laying metal.
  • The ability to shift the blade right and left comes in handy for slope and ditch work and for grading roads and parking lots.
4Cross (livestock) with a superior breed.
Example sentences
  • The low percentage of cattle grading choice is most likely explained by the aggressive implant program utilized in this study.



at grade

North American On the same level: the crossing at grade of two streets
More example sentences
  • This track crossed it at a diamond, one of the last such crossings at grade with streetcars.
  • The total distance of the metro line will be 36.50 km of which 29.15 km will be elevated, 0.65 km at grade and 6.70 km will be underground.
  • Planning requirements mean tall residential buildings have setbacks and open areas at grade, making the streetscape discontinuous and usually unpleasant.

make the grade

informal Succeed; reach the desired standard.
Example sentences
  • She quickly made the grade for England and reached the quarter-finals of the world championships in Thailand last year.
  • The Indians came through the tough Olympic qualifying competitions before making the grade.
  • Only 600 establishments have made the grade and only those who surpass the high entry standards are eligible to compete for the national awards.
qualify, be up to scratch, come up to standard, pass, pass muster, measure up;
succeed, win through
informal be up to snuff, cut it, cut the mustard


Early 16th century: from French, or from Latin gradus 'step'. Originally used as a unit of measurement of angles (a degree of arc), the term later referred to degrees of merit or quality.

  • A grade is literally a step from Latin gradus ‘step’, and was originally used in English as a unit of measurement, a use largely replaced by degree, from the same source. The word is also found in graduate (Late Middle English) ‘take a degree’, gradient (mid 19th century), gradual (Late Middle English) ‘done by degrees’, and degrade (Late Middle English). The expression to make the grade is an American expression from the early 20th century.

Words that rhyme with grade

abrade, afraid, aid, aide, ambuscade, arcade, balustrade, barricade, Belgrade, blade, blockade, braid, brigade, brocade, cannonade, carronade, cascade, cavalcade, cockade, colonnade, crusade, dissuade, downgrade, enfilade, esplanade, evade, fade, fusillade, glade, grenade, grillade, handmade, harlequinade, homemade, invade, jade, lade, laid, lemonade, limeade, made, maid, man-made, marinade, masquerade, newlaid, orangeade, paid, palisade, parade, pasquinade, persuade, pervade, raid, serenade, shade, Sinéad, staid, stockade, stock-in-trade, suede, tailor-made, they'd, tirade, trade, Ubaid, underpaid, undismayed, unplayed, unsprayed, unswayed, upbraid, upgrade, wade

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: grade

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.