Etymology
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gradient (n.)

"steep slope of a road or railroad," 1835, principally in American English, probably from grade (n.) by analogy of quotient, etc. [OED]. It was used 17c. as an adjective, of animals, "characterized by walking;" in that case it is probably from Latin gradientem, present participle of gradi "to walk."

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Definitions of gradient

gradient (n.)
a graded change in the magnitude of some physical quantity or dimension;
gradient (n.)
the property possessed by a line or surface that departs from the horizontal;
a five-degree gradient
Synonyms: slope
From wordnet.princeton.edu