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The basis or essence of a grievance; the issue upon which a particular controversy turns.

The gravamen of a criminal charge or complaint is the material part of the charge.

In English ecclesiastical law, the term gravamen referred to a grievance of which the clergy complained before the bishops in convocation.


n. the basic gist of every claim (cause of action) or charge in a complaint, particularly the failure to perform. Example: in an accident case, the gravamen may be the negligence of the defendant, and in a contract case, it may be the breach of the defendant. (See: complaint, cause of action, charge)


noun burden of a charge, cardinal point, center, central point, content, core, cornerstone, crux, essence, essence of a grievance, essential matter, essential part, essential point, focal point, gist, gist of a charge, key, keystone, main point, material part, material point, nucleus, pith, pivotal point, principal part, root, salient point, sine qua non, spirit, substance, substantial cause, substantial part of a complaint, sum and substance, thrust
Associated concepts: gravamen of a complaint
See also: center, content, cornerstone, essence, gist, impugnation, main point, meaning


that part of an accusation weighing most heavily against an accused, the substance or material grounds of a complaint.

GRAVAMEN. The grievance complained of; the substantial cause, of the action. See Greenl. Ev. Sec. 66.

References in periodicals archive ?
I believe that such a solution--one that can be squared with these policies and contract theory generally--can be obtained by looking further into the nature or gravamen of the particular claim made and the expectations of the parties.
The gravamen of this offense is the intentional shooting and resulting death of a human being without legal excuse or justification.
In this minor excerpt from Hamilton's extensive commentary upon the insufficiencies of Adams's character, we can grasp the gravamen that engendered the hostility of the Adams family and its camp of historians.
The gravamen of MacAvoy's thesis is that long-distance markets never have performed competitively and, due to the persistence of regulatory and antitrust constraints, have moved systematically away from competitive performance.
This critique, as articulated by scholars such as Hans Kelsen,(47) specifically questioned the legal adequacy of Article I of the indictment, "Crimes Against the Peace" - the charge that emerged as the gravamen of the prosecution's case.
The gravamen of Simmons is that the court must inform the jury of true sentencing alternatives, or else there can be no due process or rationality in the sentencing process.
The main target of their criticism was what used to be called material implication, and the gravamen of their charge was that the connection between two propositions one of which logically implies the other cannot be established merely by virtue of the falsity of the antecedent proposition or the truth of the consequent one.
Then charge only what is required to do justice, elicit the government's theory of the case, and address the gravamen of the alleged misconduct--not any and everything that can possibly be called an offense.
However, the court also agreed with the defendants that the gravamen of the complaint governed.
Beyond the gravamen of fraud--an untrue statement or material omission--Rule 10b-5 also requires prosecutors to demonstrate the statement's materiality and reliance by investors.
The gravamen of any sexual harassment claim is that the alleged sexual advances were unwelcome, not whether her actual participation in sexual intercourse was voluntary.