degree

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Degree

Extent, measure, or scope of an action, condition, or relation. Legal extent of guilt or Negligence. Title conferred on graduates of school, college, or university. The state or civil condition of a person. The grade or distance one thing may be removed from another; i.e., the distance, or number of removes that separate two persons who are related by consanguinity. Thus, a sibling is in the second degree of kinship but a parent is in the first degree of kinship.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

degree

(US) any of the categories into which a crime is divided according to its seriousness, hence murder in the first degree, murder in the second degree etc.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

DEGREE, descents. This word is derived from the French degre, which is itself taken from the Latin gradus, and signifies literally, a step in a stairway, or the round of a ladder.
     2. Figuratively applied, and as it is 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 (q.v.) Par degrez, by degree, the descent being reckoned par degrez. Minshew. 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. Vide Consanguinity;, Line; and also Ayliffe's Parergon, 209; Toull. Dr. Civ. Frau. liv. 3, t. 1, c. 3, n. 158; Aso & Man. Inst. B. 2, t. 4, c. 3, Sec. 1.

DEGREE, measures. In angular measures, a degree is equal to sixty minutes, or the thirtieth part of a sine. Vide Measure.

DEGREE, persons. By. degree, is understood the state or condition of a person. The ancient English statute of additions, for example, requires that in process, for the better description of a defendant, his state, degree, or mystery, shall be mentioned.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.