gradient (ˈɡreɪdɪənt)  
—n  
1.  Also called (esp US): grade a part of a railway, road, etc, that slopes upwards or downwards; inclination 
2.  Also called (esp US and Canadian): grade a measure of such a slope, esp the ratio of the vertical distance between two points on the slope to the horizontal distance between them 
3.  physics a measure of the change of some physical quantity, such as temperature or electric potential, over a specified distance 
4.  maths 
a. (of a curve) the slope of the tangent at any point on a curve with respect to the horizontal axis  
b. curl Compare divergence (of a function, f(x, y, z)) the vector whose components along the axes are the partial derivatives of the function with respect to each variable, and whose direction is that in which the derivative of the function has its maximum value. Usually written: grad f, ∇f or ∇f  
—adj  
5.  sloping uniformly 
[C19: from Latin gradiēns stepping, from gradī to go] 
gradient gra·di·ent (grā'dēənt)
n.
The rate at which a physical quantity, such as temperature or pressure, changes relative to change in a given variable, especially distance.
A series of progressively increasing or decreasing differences in the growth rate, metabolism, or physiological activity of a cell, an organ, or an organism.
gradient (grā'dēənt) Pronunciation Key
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