taking place, changing, moving, etc., by small degrees or little by little: gradual improvement in health.
rising or descending at an even, moderate inclination: a gradual slope.
Ecclesiastical, (often initial capital letter)
an antiphon sung between the Epistle and the Gospel in the Eucharistic service.
a book containing the words and music of the parts of the liturgy that are sung by the choir.

1375–1425; late Middle English < Medieval Latin graduālis pertaining to steps, graduāle the part of the service sung as the choir stood on the altar steps, equivalent to Latin gradu(s) step, grade + -ālis -al1

gradually, adverb
gradualness, noun
ungradual, adjective
ungradually, adverb

1. See slow. 2. gentle.

1. sudden. 2. precipitous. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
gradual (ˈɡrædjʊəl)
1.  occurring, developing, moving, etc, in small stages: a gradual improvement in health
2.  not steep or abrupt: a gradual slope
3.  (often capital) Christianity
 a.  an antiphon or group of several antiphons, usually from the Psalms, sung or recited immediately after the epistle at Mass
 b.  a book of plainsong containing the words and music of the parts of the Mass that are sung by the cantors and choir
[C16: from Medieval Latin graduālis relating to steps, from Latin gradus a step]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1540s, from M.L. gradualis, from L. gradus "step" (see grade).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
These kinds expand slowly and gradually from the center, so they're much easier
  to control than their running relations.
Change came slowly, as governments and shippers gradually realized their
  existing approach wasn't working.
In ways both subtle and not so subtle, the movement is gradually undermining
  academic freedom.
Gradually the details of each human chromosome have been emerging.
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