gra·​va·​men | \grə-ˈvā-mən \
plural gravamens or gravamina\grə-​ˈva-​mə-​nə \

Definition of gravamen 

: the material or significant part of a grievance or complaint

Did You Know?

Gravamen is not a word you hear every day, but it does show up occasionally in modern-day publications. It comes from the Latin verb gravare, meaning "to burden," and ultimately from the Latin adjective gravis, meaning "heavy." Fittingly, "gravamen" refers to the part of a grievance or complaint that gives it weight or substance. In legal contexts, "gravamen" is used, synonymously with "gist," to refer to the grounds on which a legal action is sustainable. "Gravis" has given English several other weighty words, including "gravity," "grieve," and the adjective grave, meaning "important" or "serious."

First Known Use of gravamen

1602, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for gravamen

Late Latin, burden, from Latin gravare to burden, from gravis

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The first known use of gravamen was in 1602

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gra·​va·​men | \grə-ˈvā-mən \

Legal Definition of gravamen 

: gist

History and Etymology for gravamen

Medieval Latin, from Late Latin, burden, from Latin gravare to burden, from gravis heavy, grave

More from Merriam-Webster on gravamen

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gravamen

Spanish Central: Translation of gravamen

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What made you want to look up gravamen? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make faulty or ineffective

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