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This word is derived from the French 'degre,' taken from the Latin 'gradus,' and literally signifies a step in a stairway or the round of a ladder.
As understood in law, it is the distance between those who are allied by blood; it means the relations descending from a common ancestor, from generation to generation, as by so many steps. Hence, according to some Lexicographers, we obtain the word, pedigree Par degrez, by degree, the descent being reckoned par degrez. Each generation lengthens the line of descent one degree, for the degrees are only the generations marked in a line by small circles or squares, in which the names of the persons forming it are written.
Persons. By degree is understood the state or condition of a person. For example, the ancient English statute of additions requires that in process, for the better description of a defendant, his state, degree or mystery, shall be mentioned.
Academic. Mark of distinction conferred on students in testimony of their proficiency in arts and sciences. They are of pontifical origin.