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[gruh-vey-muh n]
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noun, plural gra·vam·i·na [gruh-vam-uh-nuh] /grəˈvæm ə nə/. Law.
  1. the part of an accusation that weighs most heavily against the accused; the substantial part of a charge or complaint.
  2. a grievance.
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Origin of gravamen

1595–1605; < Late Latin: trouble, physical inconvenience, equivalent to Latin gravā(re) to load, weigh down (derivative of gravis heavy, burdened) + -men noun suffix
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

basic, bosom, center, core, crux, essence, focus, gist, hub, kernel, marrow, meat, middle, nitty-gritty, nub, nucleus, pith, quick, quintessence, root

Examples from the Web for gravamen

Historical Examples

  • It is the breach of this affection and preference which constitutes the gravamen.


    William Graham Sumner

  • The gravamen of the charge is so well known to the reader that the simple account which Phineas gave of it need not be repeated.

    The Prime Minister

    Anthony Trollope

  • Now she was face to face with the gravamen of her depression, with an alert morning mind to sift over its elements.

    The Eddy

    Clarence L. Cullen

  • The gravamen of his offence was that he had been ashamed of her; now she was being ashamed of herself.

  • The gravamen of the charge against the police was that they had found the knife before Pellizioni was tried.

British Dictionary definitions for gravamen


noun plural -vamina (-ˈvæmɪnə)
  1. law that part of an accusation weighing most heavily against an accused
  2. law the substance or material grounds of a complaint
  3. a rare word for grievance
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Word Origin

C17: from Late Latin: trouble, from Latin gravāre to load, from gravis heavy; see grave ²
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for gravamen


"grievance," 1640s, from Late Latin gravamen "trouble, physical inconvenience" (in Medieval Latin, "a grievance"), from gravare "to burden, aggravate," from gravis "heavy" (see grave (adj.)).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper