The gradient of a surface is its slope. If you're a daredevil and you're looking for a road to fly down on your skateboard, you'll want to find one with a fairly steep gradient.

In mathematics, the gradient tells you how steep a line in a graph is. In physics, when you say gradient, you're talking about how quickly something changes from one point to another. The word comes ultimately from the Latin gradus "step," and a gradient gives you a measure of the "steps" by which something changes.

Definitions of gradient

n a graded change in the magnitude of some physical quantity or dimension

concentration gradient
a gradient in concentration of a solute as a function of distance through a solution
gravity gradient
a gradient in the gravitational forces acting on different parts of a nonspherical object
temperature gradient
change in temperature as a function of distance (especially altitude)
Type of:
a relational difference between states; especially between states before and after some event

n the property possessed by a line or surface that departs from the horizontal

“a five-degree gradient
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the gradient of a slope or road or other surface
pitch, rake, slant
degree of deviation from a horizontal plane
abruptness, precipitousness, steepness
the property possessed by a slope that is very steep
gentleness, gradualness
the property possessed by a slope that is very gradual
rise, rising slope, upgrade
the property possessed by a slope or surface that rises
the property possessed by a slope or surface that descends
(golf) the backward slant on the head of some golf clubs that is designed to drive the ball high in the air
Type of:
position, spatial relation
the spatial property of a place where or way in which something is situated

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