**De*gree"** (?), n. [F. *degré*, OF. *degret*, fr. LL. *degradare*. See Degrade.]

**1.**

A step, stair, or staircase.

[Obs.]

By ladders, or else by **degree**.
*Rom. of R.*

**2.**

One of a series of progressive steps upward or downward, in quality, rank, acquirement, and the like; a stage in progression; grade; gradation; as, **degrees** of vice and virtue; to advance by slow **degrees**; **degree** of comparison.

**3.**

The point or step of progression to which a person has arrived; rank or station in life; position.

"A dame of high

*degree*."

*Dryden*. "A knight is your

*degree*."

*Shak*. "Lord or lady of high

*degree*."

*Lowell.*

**4.**

Measure of advancement; quality; extent; as, tastes differ in kind as well as in **degree**.

The **degree** of excellence which proclaims genius, is different in different times and different places.
*Sir. J. Reynolds.*

**5.**

Grade or rank to which scholars are admitted by a college or university, in recognition of their attainments; as, the **degree** of bachelor of arts, master, doctor, etc.

⇒ In the United States diplomas are usually given as the evidence of a degree conferred. In the humanities the first degree is that of *bachelor of arts* (B. A. or A. B.); the second that of *master of arts* (M. A. or A. M.). The degree of *bachelor* (*of arts*, *science*, *divinity*, *law*, etc.) is conferred upon those who complete a prescribed course of undergraduate study. The first degree in medicine is that of *doctor of medicine* (M. D.). The degrees of *master* and *doctor* are sometimes conferred, in course, upon those who have completed certain prescribed postgraduate studies, as *doctor of philosophy* (Ph. D.); but more frequently the degree of *doctor* is conferred as a complimentary recognition of eminent services in science or letters, or for public services or distinction (as *doctor of laws* (LL. D.) or *doctor of divinity* (D. D.), when they are called *honorary degrees*.
<-- by 1960 the Ph. D. was more common than the honorary degree. -->

The youth attained his bachelor's **degree**, and left the university.
*Macaulay.*

**5.** Genealogy

A certain distance or remove in the line of descent, determining the proximity of blood; one remove in the chain of relationship; as, a relation in the third or fourth **degree**.

In the 11th century an opinion began to gain ground in Italy, that third cousins might marry, being in the seventh **degree** according to the civil law.
*Hallam.*

**7.** Arith.

Three figures taken together in numeration; thus, 140 is one *degree*, 222,140 two *degrees*.

**8.** Algebra

State as indicated by sum of exponents; more particularly, the degree of a term is indicated by the sum of the exponents of its literal factors; thus, a^{2}b^{2}c is a term of the fifth *degree*. The *degree* of a power, or radical, is denoted by its index, that of an equation by the greatest sum of the exponents of the unknown quantities in any term; thus, ax^{4} + bx^{2} = c, and mx^{2}y^{2} + nyx = p, are both equations of the fourth *degree*.

**9.** Trig.

A 360th part of the circumference of a circle, which part is taken as the principal unit of measure for arcs and angles. The degree is divided into 60 minutes and the minute into 60 seconds.

**10.**

A division, space, or interval, marked on a mathematical or other instrument, as on a thermometer.

**11.** Mus.

A line or space of the staff.

⇒ The short lines and their spaces are *added degrees*.

Accumulation of degrees. Eng. Univ. See under Accumulation. -- By degrees, step by step; by little and little; by moderate advances. "I 'll leave *by degrees*." *Shak*. -- Degree of a curve ∨ surface Geom., the number which expresses the degree of the equation of the curve or surface in rectilinear coordinates. A straight line will, in general, meet the curve or surface in a number of points equal to the degree of the curve or surface and no more. -- Degree of latitude Geog., on the earth, the distance on a meridian between two parallels of latitude whose latitudes differ from each other by one degree. This distance is not the same on different parts of a meridian, on account of the flattened figure of the earth, being 68.702 statute miles at the equator, and 69.396 at the poles. -- Degree of longitude, the distance on a parallel of latitude between two meridians that make an angle of one degree with each other at the poles -- a distance which varies as the cosine of the latitude, being at the equator 69.16 statute miles. -- To a degree, to an extreme; exceedingly; as, mendacious **to a degree**.

It has been said that Scotsmen . . . are . . . grave **to a degree** on occasions when races more favored by nature are gladsome to excess.
*Prof. Wilson.*

© Webster 1913.