Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Advancing or progressing by regular or continuous degrees: gradual erosion; a gradual slope.
  • n. Roman Catholic Church The liturgical book containing the chants for the Mass.
  • n. Roman Catholic Church A biblical text sung between the Epistle and the Gospel of the Mass.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Proceeding by steps or small degrees; advancing step by step, as in ascent or descent or from one state to another; regularly progressive; slow; as, a gradual increase of knowledge; a gradual decline.
  • n. An antiphon or responsory after the epistle, in the Mass, which was sung on the steps, or while the deacon ascended the steps.
  • n. A service book containing the musical portions of the Mass.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Proceeding by steps or degrees; advancing, step by step, as in ascent or descent or from one state to another; regularly progressive; slow
  • n.
  • n. An antiphon or responsory after the epistle, in the Mass, which was sung on the steps, or while the deacon ascended the steps.
  • n. A service book containing the musical portions of the Mass.
  • n. A series of steps.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Marked by or divided into degrees; proceeding by orderly stages or sequence; graduated.
  • Moderate in degree of movement or change; proceeding with slow regularity; not abrupt or sudden: as, a gradual rise or fall of the thermometer; gradual improvement in health.
  • n. A series of steps.
  • n. In the Rom. Cath, Ch.: An antiphon sung after the reading of the epistle, while the book is moved from the epistle to the gospel side of the altar: so called because it was formerly sung by the subdeacon or epistler and cantor on the step (gradus) of the ambo or pulpit from which the epistle was read.
  • n. An office-book formerly in use, containing the antiphons called graduals, as well as introits and other antiphons, etc., of the mass. Also called the cantatory or cantatorium.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. (Roman Catholic Church) an antiphon (usually from the Book of Psalms) immediately after the epistle at Mass
  • adj. proceeding in small stages
  • adj. (of a topographical gradient) not steep or abrupt

Etymologies

Middle English, having steps, from Medieval Latin graduālis, from Latin gradus, step; see grade. N., Middle English, from Medieval Latin graduāle, the part of the service sung by the choir from the altar steps, gradual, from neuter sing. of graduālis.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Medieval Latin gradualis, from Latin gradus ("step"), from Proto-Indo-European *gʰradʰ-, *gʰredʰ- (“to walk, go”). Cognate with Gothic 𐌲𐍂𐌹𐌸𐍃 (griþs, "step, grade"), Bavarian Gritt ("step, stride"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Also, President Bush touting what he calls gradual but important progress in Iraq and taking a swipe at Democratic calls for reducing troop levels, saying that would undermine the entire U.S. mission and adding, and I'm quoting now, "There are no shortcuts in Iraq."

    CNN Transcript Mar 6, 2007

  • U.S. military sources tell us this morning, that indeed, over the last three months, actually, they have seen what they call a gradual increase in sniper activity.

    CNN Transcript Oct 30, 2006

  • During a visit to Saudi Arabia, US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told some of the countrys business leaders to expect what he called a gradual recovery with more than the usual ups and downs and temporary reversals.

    WN.com - Financial News

  • DOBBS: Why should anybody, Congressman -- why should anybody who has watched the president conduct this war for nearly five years and to watch what he called gradual failure of his policy over the past year, suggesting a withdrawal would be quick failure -- why should anyone in this country watching what has been achieved in Iraq over the past year believe that this administration's policy would be any more successful than those of the past year?

    CNN Transcript Jan 17, 2007

  • It must come all metaphysically, in gradual storms we do not realize till it is dark and the possibility of light has mostly all departed.

    A Rite of Passage « Unknowing

  • Rather than imposing further punitive sanctions, integrating Iran into the international community through trade and empowering its private sector is more likely to result in gradual change in the regime's behavior and could create a mutually beneficial environment of gains from trade.

    Shirin Mohammadi: Where Washington's Iran Policy Went Wrong

  • Jordan's Islamists have also joined the demonstrations, calling for a democratic reforms that will lead to what they describe as a gradual transformation of the country.

    Thousands Protest for Reform in Jordan

  • These solutions are in gradual phases and not just for women, but for men also.

    "Violence [Against Women] Is Necessary" « Unambiguously Ambidextrous

  • Superimposed over these seasonal variations is a long-term gradual increase in carbon dioxide concentration.

    AP Environmental Science Chapter 19- First-Order Effects

  • Strictly a long term gradual problem that we can solve within business as usual beginning with thin edge of the wedge mitigation strategies such as the puny BC carbon tax Jaccard and Co turnkeyed for the BC Liberal government.

    Climate Change – A Humanity Threatening Non-Issue « Stephen Rees's blog

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