Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Substance; weightiness: a frivolous biography that lacks the gravitas of its subject.
  • n. A serious or dignified demeanor: "Our national father figure needs gravitas, [but] he's pitched himself as the kid brother” ( John Leo).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Seriousness in bearing or manner; dignity.
  • n. substance, weight.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. formality in bearing and appearance

Etymologies

Latin gravitās, heaviness, seriousness; see gravity.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin gravitās ("weight, heaviness") (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • He had accumulated an air of standing, toting around great sacks of what they call gravitas.

    Under the Buttonwood Tree (Excerpt)

  • One man's "gravitas" is a good many more people's "aloof toff" in my opinion.

    Menzies Campbell and the spin doctors

  • Just as the Halloween sequels have been given a certain gravitas by the continuing appearances of Donald Pleasence, the Saw series have always used to the compelling presence of Mr. Bell to give it a certain edge.

    Scott Mendelson: Huff Post Review: Saw VII 3D (2010)

  • Convention dictates that one must have a lot of microbes (sorry) buzzing around doing all sorts of micro-work; it emerges when an organization gets to a certain size and starts believing that it needs microbes because it is now "big" and must have girth (only they call it "gravitas").

    performance anxiety

  • I think Clinton would bring a certain gravitas as a former President that no other candidate could possible bring to the table.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » The Short List

  • I think Clinton would bring a certain gravitas as a former President that no other candidate could possible bring to thetable.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » The Short List

  • Too bad Mr. Davis passes away, he brings a certain gravitas to the role that balances out O'Neill's sarcastic demeanor.

    Stargate SG-1 Watchathon - 'Children of the Gods, Pt. 1'

  • Michael Rennie brought a certain gravitas to the role of Klaatu, while Keannu is quite likely the most wooden actor of the last 20 years.

    SciFi Cinema

  • White marble with swirly gold lettering; angels, roses, birds, words on garlands of ribbon, even a salutary little skull and scythe .. 'and visiting that very grave with equal regularity and gravitas is bachelor farmer Benny who is mourning the loss of his parents.

    Benny & Shrimp - Katarina Mazetti

  • Your self-created gravitas is crushing your giant ego, which is crushing your sense of humor.

    Smug Ugly - Anil Dash

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