Definition of cause célèbre in English:

cause célèbre

Syllabification: cause cé·lè·bre
Pronunciation: /ˈkôz səˈleb(rə), ˈkōz

noun (plural causes célèbres pronounced same)

A controversial issue that attracts a great deal of public attention.
More example sentences
  • It became a cause célèbre, a controversy and it involved tick-tack of a very competitive nature between the judicial and legislative arms of government in that country.
  • In both these cases, the principal weapon it used was the judicial cause célèbre that dramatically highlighted an individual case of persecution and injustice before the ‘tribunal of public opinion’.
  • Eventually the dispute became such a cause célèbre that a delegation of strikers headed by their leading shop steward, Rose Boland, was invited to tea in Whitehall with the then employment secretary, Barbara Castle.


mid 18th century: French, literally 'famous case'.

Definition of cause célèbre in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day oleaginous
Pronunciation: ˌəʊlɪˈadʒɪnəs
rich in, covered with, or producing oil; oily