v. grad·u·at·ed, grad·u·at·ing, grad·u·ates
1. To be granted an academic degree or diploma: Most of the entering freshmen stayed to graduate.
a. To change gradually or by degrees: "The most weighty of all the arguments against treating the races of man as distinct species, is that they graduate into each other" (Charles Darwin).
b. To advance to a new level of skill, achievement, or activity: After a month of diving instruction, they all graduated to back flips.
a. To grant an academic degree or diploma to: The school has graduated many gifted chemists.
b. Usage Problem To receive an academic degree from: How many chemists graduated the Institute last year?
2. To arrange or divide into categories, steps, or grades: graduate an income tax.
3. To divide into marked intervals, especially for use in measurement: graduate a thermometer.
1. One who has received an academic degree or diploma.
2. A graduated container, such as a cylinder or beaker.
1. Possessing an academic degree or diploma.
2. Of, intended for, or relating to studies beyond a bachelor's degree: graduate courses.
[Middle English graduaten, to confer a degree, from Medieval Latin graduārī, graduāt-, to take a degree, from Latin gradus, step; see GRADE.]
Usage Note: Traditionally, the verb graduate denotes the action of conferring an academic degree or diploma, and this sense has often been conveyed in the passive voice, as in They were graduated from Yale in 2010. This usage still exists, though it is somewhat old-fashioned and may be slipping away. In our 1988 survey, 78 percent of the Usage Panel accepted this sentence, but almost half the Panel found it unacceptable in our 2006 survey. Nonetheless, this older use of the verb is both acceptable and widespread when the verb is expressed in the active voice and the institution is the subject: The university graduated more computer science majors in 2010 than in the entire previous decade. Another transitive use, in which the student is the subject and the institution is the object, as in She graduated Yale in 2010, does not find favor with the Panel. Some 77 percent objected to this usage in 1988 and again in 2006. The intransitive, and most frequent, use of the verb, as in They graduated from Yale in 2010, was ruled acceptable by 97 percent of the Panel in 2006.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus