Noun – Gravitas
We took the word “gravitas” straight from Latin, where it means “heaviness” as well as “dignity, influence.”
In English, we use “gravitas” to mean “the serious, non-playful way that people act when they’re in serious situations.”
Part of speech:
Noun, the uncountable kind: “his gravitas,” “she spoke with gravitas.”
A very closely related word that means the same thing is simply “gravity,” as in “He walked to the podium with gravity.”
how to use it:
When you need a formal, serious, dignified word for someone’s formal, serious, dignified way of acting or speaking, pick “gravitas.”
It’s much rarer than synonyms like “gravity,” “dignity,” “formality,” “seriousness,” and so on, so it’s great for emphasis.
Talk about someone’s gravitas, or about someone doing or saying something with gravitas. Or, talk about the gravitas of someone’s manners, speech, behavior, facial expressions, etc.
You can also talk about the gravitas of a moment, an event, or a situation.
Or, talk about people, words, and behaviors that express gravitas, bring or lend gravitas to a situation, compromise the gravitas of some situation, etc.
“The memo from then-Professor Elizabeth Warren was written on Harvard Law School letterhead, a symbol of gravitas for a scholar renowned as a champion for consumers victimized by predatory banks and other big businesses.”
— Annie Linskey and Matt Viser, Washington Post, 9 December 2019
“There was talk of the younger Trudeau entering politics, but many observers felt he lacked gravitas. He had spent his mid-20s drifting between stints as a bar bouncer and snowboard instructor.”
— Ashifa Kassam, The Guardian, 22 August 2019