Definition of cause in US English:



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

    ‘the cause of the accident is not clear’
    • ‘Police are investigating the possibility of mechanical failure as the cause of the accident.’
    • ‘Poor insulation against the cold is being blamed as one of the main causes of the rise in the death rate.’
    • ‘We will explain the cause of these phenomena when discussing the light conditions in plant communities.’
    • ‘Investigate the root cause of the problem and combine together with your child to find a way of combating it.’
    • ‘By measuring errors or gaps in the process, you can identify the underlying root causes of process issues.’
    • ‘Visiting Alice in hospital, Byrne would often ask the psychiatrists for an explanation for her condition, a root cause.’
    • ‘This way of thinking led to his distinctive ideas about the causes of natural phenomena.’
    • ‘She said: ‘They did not find anything so they had to put it down as a sudden death due to natural causes.’’
    • ‘Smoking is the primary preventable cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States.’
    • ‘We must also determine the causes of this phenomenon.’
    • ‘Instead, it pointed to soil erosion as being the cause of sea level rise.’
    • ‘First, cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.’
    • ‘Injuries to the eye are one of the most common preventable causes of blindness.’
    • ‘Several tests may help determine the underlying cause of chronic kidney disease.’
    • ‘Opinions differ as to the causes of this phenomenon, in which white protesters are almost always the victims.’
    • ‘Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the elderly.’
    • ‘Although the causes of the condition are unknown, most scientists believe the disorder has both genetic and environmental components.’
    • ‘As with all sudden deaths, a post-mortem examination was carried out and, according to a Garda spokesman, death was due to natural causes.’
    • ‘Finally, FDA said, the firm failed to identify the root cause of software code problems.’
    • ‘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
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Reasonable grounds for doing, thinking, or feeling something.
      ‘Faye's condition had given no cause for concern’
      ‘class size is a cause for complaint in some schools’
      with infinitive ‘the government had good cause to avoid war’
      • ‘But the government's decision to shelve the bill is no cause for celebration.’
      • ‘The Water Service however continue to state that there is no cause for concern.’
      • ‘It was a crazy episode in which Ricksen was presented, not without good cause, as a victim.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘However it was Eoin's eating habits that gave John and Theresa serious cause for concern.’
      • ‘It has given us some cause for concern for the week ahead.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Vandalism and criminal damage caused by airguns is an increasing problem which is giving cause for concern according to police.’
      • ‘He believes that fundamental issues about the way we run the world are legitimate cause for concern.’
      • ‘What is happening in our universities gives deep cause for concern.’
      • ‘Lopez is said to have promised not to dismiss him ‘without good cause or reason’.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Still, exposure to the virus is not necessarily cause for alarm in healthy individuals.’
      • ‘The most significant cause for concern is the transport issue.’
      • ‘For most this would be cause for celebration, but for Daniel it is cause for concern.’
      • ‘Sodium is the component in salt that gives cause for concern, as it contributes to high blood pressure, heart disease and strokes.’
      • ‘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, basis, motive, motivation, inducement, excuse, pretext, purpose, stimulus, provocation
      View synonyms
  • 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’
    • ‘Instead, she was measured, eloquent and undoubtedly committed to her cause.’
    • ‘How can a team of foreigners be so committed to the cause?’
    • ‘Senator Kennedy is extremely committed to the cause of the undocumented Irish and he is a very important ally for us.’
    • ‘Later the Civil Rights movement took up the cause of further emancipation.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘As an advocate for the cause, she is all the more effective for taking a line in wry understatement unusual in this context.’
    • ‘Indeed, many of the early leaders were committed to the cause of the proletarian class.’
    • ‘He was a man who stood firmly and courageously for causes and principles, including opposition to the apartheid regime in South Africa.’
    • ‘It has invited various professions and organisations to put forward ambassadors who are prepared to champion its cause.’
    • ‘Many regimes in the region see the group as a cause deserving support, not a threat to their rule.’
    • ‘You can choose to champion their noble cause or put them in their place.’
    • ‘He added that he would mobilise all former players, fans and well-wishers to support the noble 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.’
    • ‘From the late 1980s onwards she became an ardent advocate of the Kurdish cause.’
    • ‘Since his retirement, Cronkite has been an outspoken advocate of liberal causes.’
    • ‘Over the years, she has remained committed to the cause of upholding the Gandhian values.’
    • ‘How this is supposed to help her cause is less obvious.’
    • ‘Bartlett has already committed himself to the cause and has sacrificed his international career to do so.’
    • ‘However you choose to play the numbers game, these protests clearly did not represent a movement of people committed to a cause.’
    • ‘Kent Kaiser likewise has a long record as public advocate for conservative causes, and particularly those of the religious right.’
    principle, ideal, belief, belief in, conviction, tenet
    View synonyms
  • 3A matter to be resolved in a court of law.

    • ‘You wish to have part of a cause pending in a State Supreme Court removed 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.’
    • ‘That is not the way litigation in this country normally operates in federal causes.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Any attendant expenses are to be paid by the defence as costs in the cause unless the trial judge directs otherwise.’
    1. 3.1 An individual's case offered at law.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘His underlying common law cause of action arose on the date of his injury in December 1996.’
      • ‘He never let go of his grudge against the Oppenheimers and was adamant about fighting his cause in court.’
      • ‘Every individual shall have the right to have his cause heard.’
      case, suit, lawsuit, action, dispute, contention, point of view
      View synonyms


[with object]
  • 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’
    • ‘I just want them to admit what they have done and apologise for causing the death of my husband.’
    • ‘The foam and plastic from the seats caused the fire to spread rapidly though the bus.’
    • ‘Litter bugs are causing an alarming increase in the number of rats in Bolton town centre.’
    • ‘Inversion is the atmospheric condition that causes smoke to not rise above roof top height, and to hang in the air near the ground.’
    • ‘Swindon Council may also serve a warning notice on riders causing a noise nuisance.’
    • ‘This principle causes more difficulty than any other, particularly in the United States.’
    • ‘Miss Young said his mixed race had caused him problems and led to bullying at school.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In a population consisting of individuals lacking the gene, smoking causes lung cancer.’
    • ‘PC Barlow says he was causing a noise nuisance and had also ridden his bike at a car.’
    • ‘The paralysis causes panic and the individual tries to scream, but can't.’
    • ‘The four-year-old, whose condition causes communication and behavioural problems, is due to start at Frogwell Primary School in September.’
    • ‘If a particular exercise or movement causes pain, stop doing it.’
    • ‘This constant movement causes water to evaporate, the nectar to thicken and the concentration of sugar to increase.’
    • ‘This was causing everyone a lot of distress and I thought it had gone on long enough.’
    • ‘The condition causes weight loss, anaemia, diarrhoea, digestive problems, tiredness, breathlessness and mouth ulcers.’
    • ‘I've long been skeptical of the claim that the MMR vaccine causes autism.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    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
    View synonyms


  • cause and effect

    • 1The principle of causation.

      • ‘Even at that stage in his life he had discovered the principle of cause and effect.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The concept of cause and effect is the basis of karma, the Threefold Law, and even physics.’
      • ‘Do the planners and politicians understand the law of cause and effect?’
      • ‘But, according to Hume, the principle of cause and effect cannot be derived from experience.’
      • ‘Heavily depending upon theory of Karma, this philosophy applies the law of cause and effect to moral experiences.’
      • ‘Children need to learn 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.’
      • ‘I am a firm believer in the principle of cause and effect.’
      • ‘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.’
      1. 1.1The operation or relation of a cause and its effect.
        • ‘It is because of the constant confusion of cause and effect that the Cambrian explosion remains so difficult to explain.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘First, we could say that those events are simultaneous which necessarily stand in no relation of cause and effect to one another.’
        • ‘Consider what we know of basic cause and effect; a car moving 100 / kph hits an icy patch and spins out.’
        • ‘Because of the correlational design, however, the cause and effect of this relationship is unknown.’
        • ‘The second level is the level of cause and effect: what chemical and biological factors contribute to its existence.’
        • ‘Untangling this intricate mesh of cause and effect, genetic adaptation and phenotypic plasticity, is a primary objective of plant science.’
        • ‘There must be some relation of cause and effect between the employment and the accident, as well as between the accident and the injury.’
        • ‘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?’
        • ‘There is, therefore, some relation of cause and effect between the physician's presence and the patient's disease.’
  • cause of action

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

      • ‘Furthermore, the fact that a cause of action could be novel is not a bar to its proceeding to trial.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The intended claimant has a good cause of action against the intended defendant in respect of each of the claims.’
      • ‘The plaintiffs assert causes of action including negligent design, failure to warn, misrepresentation and breach of warranty.’
  • in the cause of

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

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If only they could be put to use in the cause of peace.’
      • ‘When articles like this start appearing in major newspapers, you know that something is stirring in the cause of English independence.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Its ‘heroes’ are revered as martyrs in the cause of Irish freedom.’
      • ‘Nearly 600 children took to the streets in the cause of road safety.’
      • ‘It was in the cause of liberty that writers such as Cowper and T. Day defended the Noble Savage and attacked the slave trade.’
      • ‘And his martyrdom in the cause of revolution sparked all those riots and protests in 1968, didn't it?’
      • ‘Freedom prevailed, and today the enemies of World War II are allies in the cause of peace.’
      • ‘The number of older cattle now slaughtered and burnt in the cause of BSE eradication, as of last week exceeded 5m in the UK.’
  • make common cause

    • Unite in order to achieve a shared aim.

      ‘nationalist movements made common cause with the reformers’
      • ‘And here they need to make common cause with the social democratic and centre-left governments of Europe, including our own.’
      • ‘Let the toiling masses on both sides make common cause against their avaricious overlords.’
      • ‘And then in the eighties I resigned from the Association of University Teachers over their failure to make common cause with the polytechnics.’
      • ‘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 thus, it makes common cause with the most deeply illiberal elements on the international left.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Let the humanists make common cause with them to achieve freedom.’
      • ‘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
      View synonyms
  • a rebel without a cause

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

      • ‘She, and the events of the past few days in London, put to shame the ludicrous, immature black-clothed rebels without a cause.’
      • ‘In my youth, I thought of myself as a rebel and was, many times, a rebel without a cause.’
      • ‘Suspicion at first falls on Laura's boyfriend, Bobby Briggs, captain of the football team and rebel without a cause.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She believes that could drain much of the poison from the region - and leave him a rebel 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.’
      • ‘Meanwhile the nationalists - Scots and Welsh alike - are rebels without a cause.’
      • ‘A true rebel without a cause, the Gemini-Sagittarius will object to anything that hints of conformity or orthodoxy.’
      • ‘But those different just for the heck of it are rebels 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.’


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