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gradation †(rhet.) climax; †gradual progress; series of stages XVI; scale of degrees XVII; ablaut XIX. — L. gradātiō, -ōn-, f. gradus step; see -ATION.
So grade †angular degree XVI; step, stage, DEGREE XVIII. — L. gradus or F. grade. Hence as vb. †in pp. admitted to a degree XVI; arrange in grades XVII. -grade adj. suffix repr. L. -gradus stepping, as in RETROGRADE, TARDIGRADE. gradient amount of inclination (of a road) to the horizontal. XIX. prob. f. grade with ending suggested by salient. gradine set of low steps or seats one above another; shelf at the back of an altar. XIX. — It. gradino, dim. of grado step. gradual †graded, in steps XV; proceeding by degrees XVII. — medL. graduālis, f. L. gradus. Also sb. (eccl.) portion of the Eucharistic office between the epistle and the gospel, orig. recited on the steps of the ambo. XVI. — medL. graduāle, n. of graduālis used sb. graduate (i) adj. and sb. (ii) vb. XV. (i) -, (ii) f. medL. graduātus, pp. (used sb.) of graduārī take a degree; see -ATE2, -ATE3, gradus short for Gradus ad Parnassum (steps to Parnassus), L. title of a dictionary of L. prosody used as an aid to versification. XVIII.

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gra·da·tion / grāˈdāshən/ • n. a scale or a series of successive changes, stages, or degrees: within the woodpecker family, there is a gradation of drilling ability. ∎  a stage or change in a such a scale or series: minute gradations of distance. ∎  a minute change from one shade, tone, or color to another: amorphous shapes in subtle gradations of green and blue. ∎  (in historical linguistics) another term for ablaut. DERIVATIVES: gra·da·tion·al / -shənl/ adj. gra·da·tion·al·ly / -shənl-ē/ adv.