Definition of cause célèbre in English:

cause célèbre

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

noun (plural causes célèbres pronunc. 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.

Origin

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

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