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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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 Harris really lands the stubborn, smart, egoistic genius role of Hari Seldon, while Lee Pace’ stern series of Cleons (and their machinations) are portrayed with perfect gravitas. Jeff Ewing, Forbes, 24 Sep. 2021 Written by Sarah Burns and McMahon, and narrated with gravitas by Keith David, the episodes unfold chronologically, tracing Ali’s youth as a wisecracking kid, his ascendence in the boxing scene and far beyond. Caroline Framke, Variety, 19 Sep. 2021 But its mix of gravitas, sentimentality, salty wit, tragedy, and roman à clef storytelling is most definitely Academy catnip. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 14 Sep. 2021 This juvenile heroes-and-villains, back-to-the-homeland setup overloads the Marvel Comics trademark with phony indigenous-culture gravitas. Armond White, National Review, 8 Sep. 2021 Perhaps in part because of a hardscrabble upbringing in Seattle that forced him to grow up quickly, Murray projects a gravitas that belies his years. Jeff Mcdonald, San Antonio Express-News, 1 Oct. 2021 The 61-year-old Appleton native is straight-forward, doesn't waste time with too many words and holds the gravitas of someone who has seen everything. Ben Steele, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 23 Sep. 2021 This group is led by Elliot Rentz, a Melville expert played by Bob Balaban, whose trademark cold joylessness translates in the campus setting to a scholarly gravitas. Hua Hsu, The New Yorker, 23 Aug. 2021 However, playing his senile yet still tart-tongued grandmother, Leachman lends the film a certain unforced gravitas that provides compensational rewards. Dennis Harvey, Variety, 14 Aug. 2021

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

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The first known use of gravitas was in 1869

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Last Updated

17 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Gravitas.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Oct. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of gravitas

: a very serious quality or manner

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