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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)


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.