The word gramme was adopted by the French National Convention in its 1795 decree revising the metric system as replacing the gravet introduced in 1793. Its definition remained that of the weight (poids) of a cubic centimetre of water.

The gram was the fundamental unit of mass in the 19th-century centimetre–gram–second system of units (CGS). The CGS system co-existed with the MKS system of units, first proposed in 1901, during much of the 20th century, but the gram has been displaced by the kilogram as the fundamental unit for mass when the MKS system was chosen for the SI base units in 1960.