Whether you are in the first degree or the second degree, what do you know about degrees? Degrees are important to everyone and serve different functions. You have to enter them in your GPS, or your vacation depends on it. If you don’t like something, you can also make a 180 ° turn around.

The ° symbol is a small circle that is placed higher than letters. Usually followed by the first letter of the temperature scale name such as Celsius, Kelvin or Fahrenheit.

The origin of degrees °

The word, degree, comes from the Latin word ‘Gradus’. This means step, ladder or staircase. Degrees are used to measure and determine the degree of something. ‘Gradations’ literally means ‘a step-by-step division’. For example, for burns, a classification is also made in degrees. From a first-degree burn to a third-degree burn. Burns occur when the skin is exposed to high temperatures for too long.

Degrees can be used in many ways, but the best-known application is temperature. Unlike measuring height or weight, the term ‘degree’ is used when there is no absolute zero. Thus 0 ° C is arbitrarily determined. In 1742 the Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius proposed his temperature scale, the Celsius scale. It was then decided to take the freezing point of water as the zero point and to define the temperature at which the water boils as 100 ° C. The range divided between these two temperatures is 100 equal parts. But this could just as well have been something else.

Because the freezing and boiling points of water are also partly determined by the air pressure, not all water outside will immediately freeze when the weatherman predicts that the mercury will drop below 0 ° C.

Degrees for angles

Sharp angles, blunt angles, right angles. Here too we use the unit: degrees. When we talk about angles, we will call this the degrees sign of arc. An arc degree is actually 1 / 180th of a straight angle. We also call this system the 360-degree system. A right angle is 90 °, anything above 90 ° is obtuse and below it are referred to as sharp angles. In this system only the symbol ° is used, without any letters after it.

The 360-degree system is something that dates back to ancient times and was also used by the Egyptians. We will never be able to find out the correct origin, but we do know that this is based on the 360 ​​days we have in a year. If we put these 360 ​​days on a circle and take one sixth of that, we have 60. This is a number that is easily divisible. 60 is divisible by 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 and is therefore a useful basis.


Latitude and longitude

These are imaginary lines that lie across the globe. The lines that run from North to South are called the longitudes or meridians, they vary between 0 ° and 180 °. The lines that run from East to West are called latitudes, they vary between 0 ° and 90 °. The starting point for this method is the North Star. The origin of these degrees lies with the shipmen. Navigating at sea is not easy so they came up with this grid. Here too 0 has been determined itself. 0 ° is the equator.
Have you ever suffered from jet lag? The time zones through which aircraft fly are also determined by the longitude. 1 ° here stands for four minutes. So there is a time difference of 60 minutes per 15 ° on the globe.

Degrees in everyday life

For most people it goes without saying. We get into our car without having an idea of ​​where to go because nowadays everyone has a GPS or a handy app. Of course you just give an address, but it is through degrees that we can enter coordinates to determine a precise place.

Two meters is twice as much as 1 meter, but it doesn’t work that way at degrees. In summer when it is 24 ° C in the morning, and the sun reaches its peak around noon, it can suddenly be 30 ° C. Although this is only 6 degrees difference, it can still feel twice as warm. Another example is your own body temperature. With a difference of only one degree, your whole body can already respond to this.

Application of the ° sign


On Windows, hold down the left Alt key and enter the numbers 248


On Mac you will find the degree key at the top right of the keyboard. By holding Shift and pressing the key, you use the ° or in the ‘Special characters’ window.

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