noun, plural: gradients
(1) A slope, which may be upward or downward.
(2) The degree of steepness or inclination, e.g., of a road or other geographic features.
(2) The rate of change of one variable relative to another, e.g. a physical quantity (e.g. temperature or pressure) increases or decreases relative to change in a given variable (e.g. distance).
(3) The rate of change in growth, metabolism, or physiological activity of a cell or organism.
Word origin: From Latin gradiens, present participle of gradior (“‘to step, to walk’”).
Related phrases: concentration gradient, proton gradient, potential gradient.