When your teacher stays up until four in the morning assigning scores to student work, that's the grading of papers. Grading can also mean smoothing a surface, as in grading a lawn before planting seeds.

Grading comes from the verb grade, which basically means "group by category." When a teacher works on the grading of papers, she's dividing them into groups — the A's go together, the B's and so on. Fruit grading works in the same way, as does meat — you can have meat where the grading is "prime," or meat with a grading of "Grade A." Grading also has to do with the idea of gradual change — a steep slope could be said to have steep grading.

Definitions of grading
  1. noun
    evaluation of performance by assigning a grade or score
    “what he disliked about teaching was all the grading he had to do”
    synonyms: marking, scoring
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    type of:
    evaluation, rating
    act of ascertaining or fixing the value or worth of
  2. noun
    changing the ground level to a smooth horizontal or gently sloping surface
    synonyms: leveling
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    type of:
    building, construction
    the act of constructing something
  3. noun
    the act of arranging in a graduated series
    synonyms: scaling
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    type of:
    order, ordering
    the act of putting things in a sequential arrangement
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