Definition of cause in English:



  • 1A person or thing that gives rise to an action, phenomenon, or condition.

    ‘the cause of the accident is not clear’
    • ‘First, cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.’
    • ‘Several tests may help determine the underlying cause of chronic kidney disease.’
    • ‘As with all sudden deaths, a post-mortem examination was carried out and, according to a Garda spokesman, death was due to natural causes.’
    • ‘This way of thinking led to his distinctive ideas about the causes of natural phenomena.’
    • ‘Poor insulation against the cold is being blamed as one of the main causes of the rise in the death rate.’
    • ‘By measuring errors or gaps in the process, you can identify the underlying root causes of process issues.’
    • ‘Police are investigating the possibility of mechanical failure as the cause of the accident.’
    • ‘Instead, it pointed to soil erosion as being the cause of sea level rise.’
    • ‘Visiting Alice in hospital, Byrne would often ask the psychiatrists for an explanation for her condition, a root cause.’
    • ‘We will explain the cause of these phenomena when discussing the light conditions in plant communities.’
    • ‘We must also determine the causes of this phenomenon.’
    • ‘She said: ‘They did not find anything so they had to put it down as a sudden death due to natural causes.’’
    • ‘Investigate the root cause of the problem and combine together with your child to find a way of combating it.’
    • ‘Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the elderly.’
    • ‘Finally, FDA said, the firm failed to identify the root cause of software code problems.’
    • ‘Smoking is the primary preventable cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States.’
    • ‘Injuries to the eye are one of the most common preventable causes of blindness.’
    • ‘Opinions differ as to the causes of this phenomenon, in which white protesters are almost always the victims.’
    • ‘Although the causes of the condition are unknown, most scientists believe the disorder has both genetic and environmental components.’
    • ‘Since the condition's causes remain elusive, the best way for parents to cope with the threat of cot death is to arm themselves with as much information as possible.’
    source, root, origin, beginning, beginnings, starting point, seed, germ, genesis, agency, occasion
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    1. 1.1mass noun Reasonable grounds for doing, thinking, or feeling something.
      ‘Faye's condition had given no cause for concern’
      count noun ‘class size is a cause for complaint in some schools’
      • ‘Sodium is the component in salt that gives cause for concern, as it contributes to high blood pressure, heart disease and strokes.’
      • ‘Now, ordinarily, my friend, that alone would be major cause for concern.’
      • ‘Mum phoned me while I was on tour and told me the doctors said there was cause for concern.’
      • ‘He believes that fundamental issues about the way we run the world are legitimate cause for concern.’
      • ‘When the horse suffered a mild fetlock injury on July 22 it was a cause for concern but no cause for panic.’
      • ‘Still, exposure to the virus is not necessarily cause for alarm in healthy individuals.’
      • ‘Lopez is said to have promised not to dismiss him ‘without good cause or reason’.’
      • ‘It was a crazy episode in which Ricksen was presented, not without good cause, as a victim.’
      • ‘For most this would be cause for celebration, but for Daniel it is cause for concern.’
      • ‘The Water Service however continue to state that there is no cause for concern.’
      • ‘What is happening in our universities gives deep cause for concern.’
      • ‘It has given us some cause for concern for the week ahead.’
      • ‘The most significant cause for concern is the transport issue.’
      • ‘Vandalism and criminal damage caused by airguns is an increasing problem which is giving cause for concern according to police.’
      • ‘But the government's decision to shelve the bill is no cause for celebration.’
      • ‘Asked about the impact on school buses and other services, City of York Council said there was no cause for concern or panic at the moment.’
      • ‘However it was Eoin's eating habits that gave John and Theresa serious cause for concern.’
      • ‘However, one of the trustees of the pension fund at Irish Sugar insists that there is no immediate cause for concern.’
      • ‘She was taken to Edinburgh on Friday after ultrasound scans revealed cause for concern.’
      reason, grounds, justification, call, need, necessity, occasion, basis, motive, motivation, inducement, excuse, pretext, purpose, stimulus, provocation
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  • 2A principle, aim, or movement to which one is committed and which one is prepared to defend or advocate.

    ‘she devoted her whole adult life to the cause of deaf people’
    ‘I'm raising money for good causes’
    • ‘He said that they had decided to quit the NMSII because they wanted to give a face to the ideas, the causes and the principles for which they had become MPs.’
    • ‘You can choose to champion their noble cause or put them in their place.’
    • ‘Kent Kaiser likewise has a long record as public advocate for conservative causes, and particularly those of the religious right.’
    • ‘Instead, she was measured, eloquent and undoubtedly committed to her cause.’
    • ‘Since his retirement, Cronkite has been an outspoken advocate of liberal causes.’
    • ‘As an advocate for the cause, she is all the more effective for taking a line in wry understatement unusual in this context.’
    • ‘Many regimes in the region see the group as a cause deserving support, not a threat to their rule.’
    • ‘Over the years, she has remained committed to the cause of upholding the Gandhian values.’
    • ‘Indeed, many of the early leaders were committed to the cause of the proletarian class.’
    • ‘Later the Civil Rights movement took up the cause of further emancipation.’
    • ‘Bartlett has already committed himself to the cause and has sacrificed his international career to do so.’
    • ‘Senator Kennedy is extremely committed to the cause of the undocumented Irish and he is a very important ally for us.’
    • ‘It has invited various professions and organisations to put forward ambassadors who are prepared to champion its cause.’
    • ‘How can a team of foreigners be so committed to the cause?’
    • ‘From the late 1980s onwards she became an ardent advocate of the Kurdish cause.’
    • ‘How this is supposed to help her cause is less obvious.’
    • ‘He was a man who stood firmly and courageously for causes and principles, including opposition to the apartheid regime in South Africa.’
    • ‘He added that he would mobilise all former players, fans and well-wishers to support the noble cause.’
    • ‘However you choose to play the numbers game, these protests clearly did not represent a movement of people committed to a cause.’
    • ‘That is, women must be guaranteed the right to protest freely any restrictions on their rights and to advocate their cause to the public.’
    principle, ideal, belief, belief in, conviction, tenet
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  • 3A matter to be resolved in a court of law.

    ‘forty-five causes were entered in the list for the March session’
    • ‘Any attendant expenses are to be paid by the defence as costs in the cause unless the trial judge directs otherwise.’
    • ‘The first is the expedition of the hearing of the cause in this Court.’
    • ‘The connection must surely at least be that the effect of those blandishments was in fact to cause Mr Sage to decide to perjure himself in the cause.’
    • ‘In these circumstances, I am not persuaded that it is appropriate to make orders removing either of the causes, or any part of them, into this Court.’
    • ‘Another possibility is to make them costs in the cause in the Supreme Court.’
    • ‘It is a strong thing for a court to refuse to hear a party to a cause and it is only to be justified by grave considerations of public policy.’
    • ‘The applicant seeks an order for removal into this Court of part of a cause pending in the Supreme Court of Victoria.’
    • ‘That is not the way litigation in this country normally operates in federal causes.’
    • ‘You wish to have part of a cause pending in a State Supreme Court removed into this Court.’
    1. 3.1 An individual's case offered at law.
      ‘the rule that no man should be a judge in his own cause’
      • ‘His underlying common law cause of action arose on the date of his injury in December 1996.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He never let go of his grudge against the Oppenheimers and was adamant about fighting his cause in court.’
      • ‘Laurier decided to defend the cause because he believed in minority rights but he did not approve of Riel.’
      • ‘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.’
      case, suit, lawsuit, action, dispute, contention, point of view
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  • Make (something, especially 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’
    • ‘Litter bugs are causing an alarming increase in the number of rats in Bolton town centre.’
    • ‘I've long been skeptical of the claim that the MMR vaccine causes autism.’
    • ‘The foam and plastic from the seats caused the fire to spread rapidly though the bus.’
    • ‘This was causing everyone a lot of distress and I thought it had gone on long enough.’
    • ‘Miss Young said his mixed race had caused him problems and led to bullying at school.’
    • ‘The paralysis causes panic and the individual tries to scream, but can't.’
    • ‘In a population consisting of individuals lacking the gene, smoking causes lung cancer.’
    • ‘The condition causes weight loss, anaemia, diarrhoea, digestive problems, tiredness, breathlessness and mouth ulcers.’
    • ‘I just want them to admit what they have done and apologise for causing the death of my husband.’
    • ‘Inversion is the atmospheric condition that causes smoke to not rise above roof top height, and to hang in the air near the ground.’
    • ‘To the extent that a job or career drains an individual, or causes him or her to be dishonest or mean, it is surely damaging.’
    • ‘PC Barlow says he was causing a noise nuisance and had also ridden his bike at a car.’
    • ‘We talked about the good old days and my mum looked in to see what was causing the raucous laughter.’
    • ‘For instance, there is no evidence that a rise in temperature causes more tropical cyclones.’
    • ‘The four-year-old, whose condition causes communication and behavioural problems, is due to start at Frogwell Primary School in September.’
    • ‘This constant movement causes water to evaporate, the nectar to thicken and the concentration of sugar to increase.’
    • ‘If a particular exercise or movement causes pain, stop doing it.’
    • ‘This principle causes more difficulty than any other, particularly in the United States.’
    • ‘He says crowded modern life causes noise to rise in our society - and constantly adjusting to this level of noise can lead to a medical condition.’
    • ‘Swindon Council may also serve a warning notice on riders causing a noise nuisance.’
    bring about, give rise to, be the cause of, lead to, result in, create, begin, produce, generate, originate, engender, spawn, occasion, effect, bring to pass, bring on, precipitate, prompt, provoke, kindle, trigger, make happen, spark off, touch off, stir up, whip up, induce, inspire, promote, foster
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  • cause and effect

    • 1The principle of causation.

      ‘the post-Cartesian attempt to see everything as governed by simple laws of cause and effect’
      • ‘Children need to learn the principle of cause and effect.’
      • ‘But, according to Hume, the principle of cause and effect cannot be derived from experience.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I am a firm believer in the principle of cause and effect.’
      • ‘We're part of Nature and our choices and desires are as much determined by laws of cause and effect as are the movements of the planets.’
      • ‘Hume suggested that we cannot apply to law of cause and effect to our world - we cannot say for sure that one thing causes another.’
      • ‘Heavily depending upon theory of Karma, this philosophy applies the law of cause and effect to moral experiences.’
      • ‘Do the planners and politicians understand the law of cause and effect?’
      • ‘The concept of cause and effect is the basis of karma, the Threefold Law, and even physics.’
      • ‘Even at that stage in his life he had discovered the principle of cause and effect.’
      1. 1.1The operation or relation of a cause and its effect.
        ‘cause and effect play an important part in the universe’
        • ‘Untangling this intricate mesh of cause and effect, genetic adaptation and phenotypic plasticity, is a primary objective of plant science.’
        • ‘It is because of the constant confusion of cause and effect that the Cambrian explosion remains so difficult to explain.’
        • ‘There must be some relation of cause and effect between the employment and the accident, as well as between the accident and the injury.’
        • ‘The second level is the level of cause and effect: what chemical and biological factors contribute to its existence.’
        • ‘However, I'm not sure about the cause and effect, here - and it's a tension that's been cropping up in a lot of contributions to this thread.’
        • ‘Was the relationship strong enough that you would say it was cause and effect, that the stress was causing the change in the skin function?’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘Because of the correlational design, however, the cause and effect of this relationship is unknown.’
        • ‘Consider what we know of basic cause and effect; a car moving 100 / kph hits an icy patch and spins out.’
  • cause of action

    • A fact or facts that enable a person to bring an action against another.

      ‘the plaintiff had a good cause of action in negligence’
      • ‘The plaintiffs assert causes of action including negligent design, failure to warn, misrepresentation and breach of warranty.’
      • ‘The intended claimant has a good cause of action against the intended defendant in respect of each of the claims.’
      • ‘In addition, courts in other countries have begun to entertain private law causes of action as a means for seeking redress for human rights violations.’
      • ‘Consequently the first question is whether the claimant has a personal cause of action against the defendant.’
      • ‘Furthermore, the fact that a cause of action could be novel is not a bar to its proceeding to trial.’
  • in the cause of

    • So as to support, promote, or defend something.

      ‘he gave his life in the cause of freedom’
      • ‘Its ‘heroes’ are revered as martyrs in the cause of Irish freedom.’
      • ‘And his martyrdom in the cause of revolution sparked all those riots and protests in 1968, didn't it?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Finding a taxi on Valentine's Day afternoon in Devizes could be something of a problem, but few will mind because it will be in the cause of true love.’
      • ‘The number of older cattle now slaughtered and burnt in the cause of BSE eradication, as of last week exceeded 5m in the UK.’
      • ‘When articles like this start appearing in major newspapers, you know that something is stirring in the cause of English independence.’
      • ‘Freedom prevailed, and today the enemies of World War II are allies in the cause of peace.’
      • ‘Nearly 600 children took to the streets in the cause of road safety.’
      • ‘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.’
  • make common cause

    • Unite in order to achieve a shared aim.

      ‘nationalist movements made common cause with the reformers’
      • ‘Let the toiling masses on both sides make common cause against their avaricious overlords.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And thus, it makes common cause with the most deeply illiberal elements on the international left.’
      • ‘And then in the eighties I resigned from the Association of University Teachers over their failure to make common cause with the polytechnics.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And here they need to make common cause with the social democratic and centre-left governments of Europe, including our own.’
      • ‘On certain foreign policy issues, Switzerland and Bulgaria have a track record of making common cause.’
      • ‘Thrilling, after all, to be making common cause over one issue with a person with whom you would not otherwise agree about anything.’
      • ‘One would have expected the two sister professions to make common cause.’
      cooperate, collaborate, work together, work side by side, act together, act jointly, pull together, band together, come together, get together, join forces, team up, unite, combine, merge, amalgamate, pool resources, club together, make common cause, form an alliance, liaise
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  • a rebel without a cause

    • A person who is dissatisfied with society but does not have a specific aim to fight for.

      ‘he was a rebel without a cause, a born mutineer’
      • ‘But those different just for the heck of it are rebels without a cause.’
      • ‘A true rebel without a cause, the Gemini-Sagittarius will object to anything that hints of conformity or orthodoxy.’
      • ‘She, and the events of the past few days in London, put to shame the ludicrous, immature black-clothed rebels without a cause.’
      • ‘Peter, an 18-year-old who lives with his parents and sister in a middle-class Toronto suburban wasteland in the early 1960s, is a rebel without a cause or a clue.’
      • ‘In my youth, I thought of myself as a rebel and was, many times, a rebel without a cause.’
      • ‘She believes that could drain much of the poison from the region - and leave him a rebel without a cause.’
      • ‘He was the perfect rock star - a good-looking misfit, a rebel without a cause, a man-boy with a voice like howling sandpaper.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Meanwhile the nationalists - Scots and Welsh alike - are rebels without a cause.’
      • ‘Suspicion at first falls on Laura's boyfriend, Bobby Briggs, captain of the football team and rebel without a cause.’


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