degree

Definitions

General English

Aviation

  • noun a level, amount or quantity
  • noun a unit of measurement of an angle equal to 1/360th of a circle – each degree is divided into 60 minutes and each minutes into 60 seconds
  • noun a unit of direction as measured on a compass

Commerce

  • noun a qualification awarded to someone who has passed a course of study at a university or polytechnic

Construction

  • 1/360th of the circumference of a circle or a round angle.

Electronics

  • A unit of temperature interval, such as a kelvin, or a degree Celsius.
  • A standard unit of angular measure, which is equal to 1/360 of a complete revolution of a circle. It is also equal to approximately 0.0174533 radian.

Information & Library Science

  • noun a qualification awarded by a university or college following successful completion of a course of study or period of research, or a similar qualification granted as an honour

Law

  • noun a system for classifying murders

Origin & History of “degree”

Etymologically, degree means ‘step down’, a sense revealed more clearly in its relative degrade (14th c.). It comes via Old French degre from vulgar Latin *dēgradus, a compound noun formed from the prefix - ‘down’ and gradus ‘step’ (source of English gradual and a wide range of other words). The word’s modern meanings, such as ‘academic rank’ and ‘unit of temperature’, come from an underlying abstract notion of a hierarchy of steps or ranks. Degrade represents a parallel but distinct formation, originally coined as ecclesiastical Latin dēgradāre and passed into English via Old French degrader.
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