grav·i·tas | \ˈgra-və-ˌtäs, -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, but it seems to come easier in those who are over 60, slow-moving--and a bit overweight.

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

While the gravitas of being a former professional athlete may have helped, so did Boone’s investing in the boys, periodically texting parents on how their child was developing, and using setbacks on the field as teachable moments. Billy Witz, New York Times, "Aaron Boone Has No Coaching Experience? Don’t Tell That to His Flag Football Team," 29 Mar. 2018 That's because Jordan has the gravitas to credibly translate the owners' viewpoint to the players and the players' viewpoint to the owners. Rick Bonnell, charlotteobserver, "Could NBA’s secret labor weapon be clear-the-air Jordan? Adam Silver hopes so," 11 July 2018 With its storied past and esteemed status as the third-oldest golf club in Illinois, Highland Park’s Exmoor Country Club has a certain gravitas that other venues simply lack. Steve Reaven,, "Exmoor set for its pro debut with Constellation Senior Players Championship," 9 July 2018 This is but the latest of the men in her family who have all died in combat, and the new back story adds considerable gravitas to the character. Philip Brandes,, "In 'Lysistrata Unbound,' the women go to war against war," 22 June 2018 Only an actor with the gravitas of Delgado could make this work. Marcus Crowder,, "Former ‘Sesame Street’ star makes Cal Shakes’ ‘Quixote Nuevo’ an instant classic," 18 June 2018 Would have been nice to have given the whole series that kind of gravitas. Trevor Fraser,, "Movie Musings: The Cosmic, mutiny in the cosmos and the kingdom," 15 June 2018 The glory in officiating comes from letting the gravitas and beauty of the occasion do the talking. Martin Mulkeen, GQ, "How to Officiate Your Friend's Wedding," 13 June 2018 Priyanka knows how to have fun, but there’s also a gravitas to her. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Priyanka Chopra Can't Stop Leaving Flirty Comments on Nick Jonas' Instagram and We Are Here For It," 7 June 2018

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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Statistics for gravitas

Last Updated

21 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for gravitas

The first known use of gravitas was in 1869

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More Definitions for gravitas



English Language Learners Definition of gravitas

: a very serious quality or manner

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Comments on gravitas

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


to reject or criticize sharply

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