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[gruh-vey-muh n] /grəˈveɪ mən/
noun, plural gravamina
[gruh-vam-uh-nuh] /grəˈvæm ə nə/ (Show IPA).
the part of an accusation that weighs most heavily against the accused; the substantial part of a charge or complaint.
a grievance.
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 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for gravamen
Historical Examples
  • The gravamen of his offence was that he had been ashamed of her; now she was being ashamed of herself.

    Mrs. Maxon Protests Anthony Hope
  • 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
  • This hazarding of Mrs. Owen's favor became now the gravamen of his offense, the culmination of all his offenses.

    A Hoosier Chronicle Meredith Nicholson
  • 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
  • It is the breach of this affection and preference which constitutes the gravamen.

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

  • But foreigners are treated as outside the law, which is the gravamen of the Chinese offence against them.

  • The famous telegram put forward by France as the gravamen, or chief offence, was not communicated to the Chamber.

  • The gravamen of the charge against Ishmael lies in the last word of Gen. xxi.

  • You will observe, of course, that the gravamen of this consists in my having done so after the confession.

British Dictionary definitions for gravamen


noun (pl) -vamina (-ˈvæmɪnə)
(law) that part of an accusation weighing most heavily against an accused
(law) the substance or material grounds of a complaint
a rare word for grievance
Word Origin
C17: from Late Latin: trouble, from Latin gravāre to load, from gravis heavy; see grave²
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
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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.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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