De*gree" (?), n. [F.
degré, OF. degret, fr. LL. degradare. See
Degrade.] 1. A step, stair, or
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
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."
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,
&fist; 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.
The youth attained his bachelor's degree, and
left the university. Macaulay.
6. (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.
7. (Arith.) Three figures taken
together in numeration; thus, 140 is one degree, 222,140 two
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,
a2b3c is a term of the sixth
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,
ax4 + bx2 = c, and
mx2y2 + 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
&fist; The short lines and their spaces are added
Accumulation of degrees. (Eng. Univ.)
See under Accumulation. -- By
degrees, step by step; by little and little; by
moderate advances. "I'll leave it by degrees."
Shak. -- Degree of a curve or
surface (Geom.), the number which expresses the
degree of the equation of the curve or surface in rectilinear
coördinates. 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.