De*grade" (?), v. t. [imp. & p.
p. Degraded; p. pr. & vb. n.
Degrading.] [F. dégrader, LL. degradare,
fr. L. de- + gradus step, degree. See Grade, and
cf. Degree.] 1. To reduce from a higher
to a lower rank or degree; to lower in rank; to deprive of office or
dignity; to strip of honors; as, to degrade a nobleman, or a
Prynne was sentenced by the Star Chamber Court to be
degraded from the bar. Palfrey.
2. To reduce in estimation, character, or
reputation; to lessen the value of; to lower the physical, moral, or
intellectual character of; to debase; to bring shame or contempt
upon; to disgrace; as, vice degrades a man.
O miserable mankind, to what fall
Degraded, to what wretched state reserved!
Yet time ennobles or degrades each
Her pride . . . struggled hard against this
degrading passion. Macaulay.
3. (Geol.) To reduce in altitude or
magnitude, as hills and mountains; to wear down.
Syn. -- To abase; demean; lower; reduce. See
De*grade", v. i. (Biol.) To
degenerate; to pass from a higher to a lower type of structure; as, a
family of plants or animals degrades through this or that
genus or group of genera.