• Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • n Gravamen (Law) The grievance complained of; the substantial cause of the action; also, in general, the ground or essence of a complaint. Bouvier.
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n gravamen The burden or chief weight; that part of an accusation which weighs most heavily against the accused; the substantial cause of an action at law; ground or burden of complaint in general.
    • n gravamen In the Ch. of Eng., a representation by the lower house of Convocation to the upper of an existing grievance, disorder, or inconvenience affecting the church. A gravamen, accompanied by a reformandum or resolution embodying action intended to remedy the trouble indicated, becomes, as adopted by the house, an articulus cleri. If agreed to by the upper house (the house of bishops), that house transmits it to the Crown and Parliament with a view to its becoming law by their action and approval.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Gravamen grav-ā′men grievance: the substantial or chief ground of complaint or accusation: the name for the statement of abuses, grievances, &c. sent by the Lower to the Upper House of Convocation.
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
L., fr. gravare, to load, burden, fr. gravis, heavy, weighty. See Grave (a.)
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
L.,—gravis, heavy.


In literature:

Its gravamen lay in the certainty that trial meant death.
"The Path of the King" by John Buchan
The gravamen's in that!
"Dramatic Romances" by Robert Browning
You will observe, of course, that the gravamen of this consists in my having done so after the confession.
"An Essay on Professional Ethics" by George Sharswood
That is the gravamen of the charge against you!
"Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine - Volume 54, No. 338, December 1843" by Various
The chief gravamen no doubt was that Dublin was included among the four.
"St. Bernard of Clairvaux's Life of St. Malachy of Armagh" by H. J. Lawlor
In reality, however, the gravamen of the charges brought against these restrictions appears generally to be precisely the opposite.
"The Acquisitive Society" by R. H. Tawney
We should not grudge the money for service rendered; the gravamen of our impeachment is that no monarch now can render service of value.
"Satires And Profanities" by James Thomson and G. W. Foote
The gravamen of his offence was that he had been ashamed of her; now she was being ashamed of herself.
"Mrs. Maxon Protests" by Anthony Hope