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gravamen Syllabification: gra·va·men
Pronunciation: /ɡrəˈvāmən/

Definition of gravamen in English:

noun (plural gravamina-ˈvamənə)

chiefly Law
1The essence or most serious part of a complaint or accusation.
Example sentences
  • It is the practice of the defendant in relation to its contractual and statutory requirements that forms the gravamen of the plaintiffs' complaint.
  • Yes, the gravamen of harm in the plaintiff's point of view is the damage to economic interests.
  • In cases involving accidents, the gravamen of the offence is whether the prosecution established the accused was driving carelessly, and not the consequences of the driving.
1.1A grievance.
Example sentences
  • Now we have come perhaps to the gravamen of the problem.
  • What's your gravamen, Rick?
  • The gravamen of his 30 years of research is that public schools are notoriously inefficient at converting additional dollars into improved student learning.


Early 17th century (as an ecclesiastical term denoting formal presentation of a grievance): from late Latin, literally 'physical inconvenience', from Latin gravare 'to load', from gravis 'heavy'.

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