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1 : a step in a direct line of descent or in the line of ascent to a common ancestor
2 a : a measure of the seriousness of a crime see also fifth degree, first degree, fourth degree, second degree, third degree NOTE: Crimes are rated by degrees for the purpose of imposing more severe punishments for more serious crimes.
b : a measure of care
: a measure of negligence esp. in connection with bailments see also care, negligence
Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.