1. A stage or degree in a process.
2. A position in a scale of size, quality, or intensity: a poor grade of lumber.
3. An accepted level or standard.
4. A set of persons or things all falling in the same specified limits; a class.
a. A level of academic development in an elementary, middle, or secondary school: learned fractions in the fourth grade.
b. A group of students at such a level: The third grade has recess at 10:30.
c. grades Elementary school.
6. A number, letter, or symbol indicating a student's level of accomplishment: a passing grade in history.
7. A military, naval, or civil service rank.
8. The degree of inclination of a slope, road, or other surface: the steep grade of the mountain road.
9. A slope or gradual inclination, especially of a road or railroad track: slowed the truck when he approached the grade.
10. The level at which the ground surface meets the foundation of a building.
11. A domestic animal produced by crossbreeding one of purebred stock with one of ordinary stock.
12. Linguistics A degree of ablaut.
v. grad·ed, grad·ing, grades
1. To arrange in grades; sort or classify: How is motor oil graded?
a. To determine the quality of (academic work, for example); evaluate: graded the book reports.
b. To give a grade to (a student, for example).
3. To level or smooth to a desired or horizontal gradient: bulldozers graded the road.
4. To gradate.
5. To improve the quality of (livestock) by crossbreeding with purebred stock.
To change or progress gradually: piles of gravel that grade from coarse to fine.
[French, from Latin gradus; see ghredh- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.