grav·​i·​tas | \ ˈgra-və-ˌtäs How to pronounce gravitas (audio) , -ˌtas \

Definition of gravitas

: high seriousness (as in a person's bearing or in the treatment of a subject) had the gravitas of a deep thinker

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Did You Know?

This word comes to us straight from Latin. Among the Romans, gravitas was thought to be essential to the character and functions of any adult (male) in authority. Even the head of a household or a low-level official would strive for this important quality. We use gravitas today to identify the same solemn dignity in men and women.

Examples of gravitas in a Sentence

The new leader has an air of gravitas that commands respect. a comic actress who lacks the gravitas for dramatic roles The new leader has a certain gravitas.
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Recent Examples on the Web Voters are looking for a sense of the candidates’ character –judgment, gravitas, force of personality. Todd J. Gillman, Dallas News, "Las Vegas debate exposed Mike Bloomberg’s inexperience and Elizabeth Warren’s hunger," 20 Feb. 2020 Few people in the global aerospace community have as much gravitas as Gerstenmaier or as much understanding of how to build coalitions to explore space. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "William Gerstenmaier joins SpaceX, and that’s a really big deal," 11 Feb. 2020 Both Democrats have sought to convey qualities of leadership and gravitas that match the moment. Jonathan Martin, New York Times, "Our 2020 Election Guide," 15 Mar. 2020 West's experience as a teacher adds gravitas to the absurdity. (Feb. 4) The Resisters, by Gish Jen New baseball novel worth reading, part 2. David Canfield,, "20 new books to read in February," 1 Feb. 2020 The work links classicism with modernity and silently lords over the dining room with grace and gravitas. Michele Parente, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Il Dandy’s Michelin-starred chefs take Italian to new heights — but is it high enough?," 4 July 2019 Well, not too much treacle; anything that starts with James Earl Jones' narration is bound to have its own blend of gravitas and sentimentalism. A.d. Amorosi,, "Album Review: Beyonce‘s ‘The Lion King: The Gift’," 19 July 2019 Mufasa is portrayed by Gerald Ramsey, whose performance sometimes falls on the wrong side of the line between gravitas and stiffness., "‘The Lion King’ is still a feast for the eyes — and the heart, too - The Boston Globe," 10 Oct. 2019 And, like Big Tobacco giants before it, Juul has begun wooing top researchers to lend the company gravitas. Jamie Ducharme, Time, "How Juul Hooked Kids and Ignited a Public Health Crisis," 19 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gravitas.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of gravitas

1869, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for gravitas

Latin — see gravity

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Time Traveler for gravitas

Time Traveler

The first known use of gravitas was in 1869

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Statistics for gravitas

Last Updated

2 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Gravitas.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for gravitas


How to pronounce gravitas (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of gravitas

formal : a very serious quality or manner

More from Merriam-Webster on gravitas

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gravitas

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gravitas

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