one of several levels in an organization or system
View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary
Origin and usage
The noun tier comes from the French word ‘tire’. It has been used in English since the 16th century.
There are currently three Covid alert levels in place in England (Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have different rules) that are informally referred to as tiers. The different levels are applied in different areas of the country, depending on the number of cases and how quickly it is growing. It is unclear where the use of the word tier in this context came from since, as the first quotation below shows, it is not an official term. It has quickly become established, though, with references to Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 restrictions occurring widely across the media. The system recently put in place in Scotland consists of five tiers, with Tier 0 resembling normality and Tier 4 close to complete lockdown. In addition to the meaning above, a tier is also ‘one of several rows or layers of something with each one at a different height’ (eg a wedding cake with three tiers). The related adjective tiered has two meanings: arranged in rows, with each row slightly higher than the row in front (tiered seating, a tiered auditorium); and describing an organization or system with several different levels.
“Local COVID alert levels are sometimes called ‘tiers’ or known as a ‘local lockdown’.”
“Three-tier coronavirus alert levels: Tier 1, 2 and 3 rules explained.”
“TIER AND LOATHING. £22M PACKAGE FOR MANCHESTER BRANDED ‘BRUTAL’ BY BURNHAM AS LOCKDOWN IMPOSED ON CITY.”
(Metro newspaper headine)
level, status, stratum
Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.
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