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From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Gradient \Gra"di*ent\, n. 1. The rate of regular or graded ascent or descent in a road; grade. [1913 Webster] 2. A part of a road which slopes upward or downward; a portion of a way not level; a grade. [1913 Webster] 3. The rate of increase or decrease of a variable magnitude, or the curve which represents it; as, a thermometric gradient. 4. (Chem., Biochem.) The variation of the concentration of a chemical substance in solution through some linear path; also called concentration gradient; -- usually measured in concentration units per unit distance. Concentration gradients are created naturally, e.g. by the diffusion of a substance from a point of high concentration toward regions of lower concentration within a body of liquid; in laboratory techniques they may be made artificially. [PJC] gradient maker (Biochem.) a device which creates a concentration gradient in a solution within some apparatus; -- used, e. g., for separation of biochemical substances. [PJC] Gradient post, a post or stake indicating by its height or by marks on it the grade of a railroad, highway, or embankment, etc., at that spot. Gradin