Definition of cause in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /kôz/


1A person or thing that gives rise to an action, phenomenon, or condition: the cause of the accident is not clear
More example sentences
  • This way of thinking led to his distinctive ideas about the causes of natural phenomena.
  • Visiting Alice in hospital, Byrne would often ask the psychiatrists for an explanation for her condition, a root cause.
  • We must also determine the causes of this phenomenon.
source, root, origin, beginning(s), starting point;
mainspring, base, basis, foundation, fountainhead;
originator, author, creator, producer, agent
1.1Reasonable grounds for doing, thinking, or feeling something: Faye’s condition had given no cause for concern [with infinitive]: the government had good cause to avoid war class size is a cause for complaint in some schools
More example sentences
  • Lopez is said to have promised not to dismiss him ‘without good cause or reason’.
  • Vandalism and criminal damage caused by airguns is an increasing problem which is giving cause for concern according to police.
  • When the horse suffered a mild fetlock injury on July 22 it was a cause for concern but no cause for panic.
reason, grounds, justification, call, need, necessity, occasion;
excuse, pretext
2A principle, aim, or movement that, because of a deep commitment, one is prepared to defend or advocate: she devoted her life to the cause of deaf people I’m raising money for a good cause
More example sentences
  • Kent Kaiser likewise has a long record as public advocate for conservative causes, and particularly those of the religious right.
  • However you choose to play the numbers game, these protests clearly did not represent a movement of people committed to a cause.
  • Since his retirement, Cronkite has been an outspoken advocate of liberal causes.
principle, ideal, belief, conviction;
object, end, aim, objective, purpose, mission;
3A matter to be resolved in a court of law.
Example sentences
  • Another possibility is to make them costs in the cause in the Supreme Court.
  • The first is the expedition of the hearing of the cause in this Court.
  • The applicant seeks an order for removal into this Court of part of a cause pending in the Supreme Court of Victoria.
3.1An individual’s case offered at law.
Example sentences
  • He always fought individual causes with the same passion that he applied to collective ones.
  • Every individual shall have the right to have his cause heard.
  • At the same time, the reluctance of some women with legitimate causes to plead a suit of force and fear at all, hints that they feared the courts might have condoned the use of coercion.
case, suit, lawsuit, action, dispute


[with object]
Make (something, typically something bad) happen: this disease can cause blindness [with object and infinitive]: we have no idea what has happened to cause people to stay away [with two objects]: you could cause them problems
More example sentences
  • Miss Young said his mixed race had caused him problems and led to bullying at school.
  • The foam and plastic from the seats caused the fire to spread rapidly though the bus.
  • Swindon Council may also serve a warning notice on riders causing a noise nuisance.



cause and effect

The principle of causation.
Example sentences
  • It is possible both to accept the basic scientific principles of cause and effect and also to believe in the holistic view of the world as a living organism.
  • But, according to Hume, the principle of cause and effect cannot be derived from experience.
  • I am a firm believer in the principle of cause and effect.
1.1The operation or relation of a cause and its effect.
Example sentences
  • First, we could say that those events are simultaneous which necessarily stand in no relation of cause and effect to one another.
  • There is, therefore, some relation of cause and effect between the physician's presence and the patient's disease.
  • There must be some relation of cause and effect between the employment and the accident, as well as between the accident and the injury.

cause of action

Law A fact or facts that enable a person to bring an action against another.
Example sentences
  • The plaintiffs assert causes of action including negligent design, failure to warn, misrepresentation and breach of warranty.
  • Consequently the first question is whether the claimant has a personal cause of action against the defendant.
  • The intended claimant has a good cause of action against the intended defendant in respect of each of the claims.

in the cause of

So as to support, promote, or defend something.
Example sentences
  • This is because we must accept a compromise of some of our fundamental human rights and liberties in the cause of effectively fighting the enemy.
  • It was in the cause of liberty that writers such as Cowper and T. Day defended the Noble Savage and attacked the slave trade.
  • If only they could be put to use in the cause of peace.

make common cause

Unite in order to achieve a shared aim: nationalist movements made common cause with the reformers
More example sentences
  • Let the humanists make common cause with them to achieve freedom.
  • Today, I'd like to offer a few thoughts on what these developments have meant for your colleagues in public broadcasting, and share some ideas about how our institutions might make common cause in the future.
  • As a hunter-gatherer nation, Australia could play a further role in world affairs by making common cause without a hunter-gatherer peoples, all of whom are taking a terrible hammering.

a rebel without a cause

A person who is dissatisfied with society but does not have a specific aim to fight for.
From the title of a US film, released in 1955
Example sentences
  • Lindner, writing when Storm Troopers were still a fresh memory, is concerned with the effects of Mass Culture on society, especially on the young, the rebels without a cause.
  • But those different just for the heck of it are rebels without a cause.
  • She, and the events of the past few days in London, put to shame the ludicrous, immature black-clothed rebels without a cause.



Pronunciation: /ˈkôzləs/
Example sentences
  • I am afraid that before long no one will be able to talk to me because I will burst into spontaneous, seemingly causeless laughter and that plus the sarcasm will irritate people and scare them away.
  • These last two arguments make the point that causality is necessary for the operation of morality in the world, and to introduce a causeless free will is to make the teaching of morality or its motivation by punishment or reward pointless.
  • Mr. Webster defines ‘freak’ as a sudden causeless change of mind, a whim of fancy, a vagary, a caprice.


Example sentences
  • We plan to pursue this very hard to catch the trouble causers responsible.
  • They have been completely absorbed, so they aren't wreckers and problem causers any more.
  • I would like to ascertain that it is not the claimer/victim of the accident who is putting premiums up but the causer of the accident for their stupidity or lack of attention.


Middle English: from Old French, from Latin causa (noun), causare (verb).

Words that rhyme with cause

applause, Azores, clause, Dors, drawers, gauze, hawse, indoors, Laws, outdoors, pause, plus-fours, quatorze, Santa Claus, taws, tawse, yaws, yours

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: cause

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.