1. A step; a distinct portion of space of indefinite extent; a space in progression; as, the army gained the hill by degrees; a balloon rises or descends by slow degrees; and figuratively, we advance in knowledge by slow degrees. Men are yet in the first degree of improvement. It should be their aim to attain to the furthest degree or the highest degree There are degrees of vice and virtue.
2. A step or portion of progression, in elevation, quality, dignity or rank; as a man of great degree
We speak of men of high degree or of low degree; of superior or inferior degree It is supposed there are different degrees or orders of angels.
They purchase to themselves a good degree 1 Timothy 3:13.
3. In genealogy, a certain distance or remove in the line of descent, determining the proximity of blood; as a relation in the third or fourth degree
4. Measure; extent. The light is intense to a degree that is intolerable. We suffer an extreme degree of heat or cold.
5. In geometry, a division of a circle, including a three hundred and sixtieth part of its circumference. Hence a degree of latitude is the 360th part of the earths surface north or south of the equator, and a degree of longitude, the same part of the surface east or west of any given meridian.
6. In music, an interval of sound, marked by a line on the scale.
7. In arithmetic, a degree consists of three figures; thus, 270, 360, compose two degrees.
8. A division, space or interval, marked on a mathematical or other instrument; as on a thermometer, or barometer.
9. In colleges and universities, a mark of distinction conferred on students, as a testimony of their proficiency in arts and sciences; giving them a kind of rank, and entitling them to certain privileges. This is usually evidenced by a diploma. Degrees are conferred pro meritis on the alumni of a college; or they are honorary tokens of respect, conferred on strangers of distinguished reputation. The first degree is that of Bachelor of Arts; the second, that of Master of Arts. Honorary degrees are those of Doctor of Divinity, Doctor of Laws, etc. Physicians also receive the degree of Doctor of Medicine.
By degrees, step by step; gradually; by little and little; by moderate advances. Frequent drinking forms by degrees a confirmed habit of intemperance.