noun (plural causes célèbres pronounced same)
A controversial issue that attracts a great deal of public attention.
- 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'.
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