cause

noun
\ ˈkȯz How to pronounce cause (audio) \

Definition of cause

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a reason for an action or condition : motive
b : something that brings about an effect or a result trying to find the cause of the accident
c : a person or thing that is the occasion of an action or state a cause for celebration especially : an agent that brings something about She is the cause of your troubles.
d : sufficient reason discharged for cause
2a : a ground of legal action
b : case They are paid by the cause for their expert opinions.
3 : a matter or question to be decided The city council is involved with school department causes.
4a : a principle or movement militantly defended or supported the insurgents' cause
b : a charitable undertaking for a good cause

cause

verb
caused; causing

Definition of cause (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to serve as a cause or occasion of cause an accident
2 : to compel by command, authority, or force caused him to resign

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from cause

Noun

causeless \ ˈkȯz-​ləs How to pronounce causeless (audio) \ adjective

Verb

causer noun

Examples of cause in a Sentence

Noun

His symptoms had no apparent physical causes. She is the cause of all their problems. The medicine was prescribed without good cause. Their marriage was a cause for celebration. I can support a cause that means something to me. I'm willing to donate money as long as it's for a good cause.

Verb

He swerved and caused an accident. The flood caused great hardship. The illness is caused by a virus. The flood caused the town great hardship. You caused us a lot of extra work.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The cause for the blaze is still unconfirmed, but officials told the BBC it may be linked to the current renovations on the 850-year-old church. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Some of Notre Dame's Famous Pieces Are Being Moved to the Louvre," 15 Apr. 2019 Consumer Reports then published that an additional 22 infant deaths are linked to the Rock 'n Play, though the cause of these may be unrelated to the product itself. Rachel Rothman, Good Housekeeping, "Everything You Need to Know About the 2019 Fisher-Price Rock 'n Play Sleeper "Recall"," 9 Apr. 2019 Nicole Curtis, star of HGTV's Rehab Addict, decided to make a major change to her long, waist-length hair—for a very good cause. Maya Mcdowell, House Beautiful, "HGTV's Nicole Curtis Cut Over a Foot of Her Hair to Create Wigs for Children With Hair Loss," 11 Feb. 2019 The cause of the crash was under investigation, police said. Amy Lieu, Fox News, "Father, 4 daughters killed in Delaware crash, mother survives," 2 Oct. 2018 Richman dedicated himself to the cause, becoming known locally and nationally for his advocacy on mental health issues, up until his death on Monday. Pat Eaton-robb, The Seattle Times, "Newtown dad who probed violence dies in apparent suicide," 25 Mar. 2019 His son, Allen, told The New York Times that the cause was from complications of a fall. Megan Stein, Country Living, "Legendary 'Masterpiece Theatre' Host Russell Baker Has Died," 23 Jan. 2019 The practice has become so common that there’s even a group called Pay Away the Layaway devoted to the cause. Nadra Nittle, Vox, "Tyler Perry paid off 1,500 Walmart layaway accounts, but the service can be risky for low-income shoppers," 12 Dec. 2018 Donate your penguin suit to the cause This is what the researchers propose to do. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Making light twist into a bowtie may reveal dark matter," 12 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Antivirus makers Sophos and Avast are warning users that installing a recent Windows update may cause their PCs to lock up or fail to boot. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Sophos, Avast warn of Windows machines failing to boot after latest Microsoft patch," 15 Apr. 2019 On late Monday afternoon, a catastrophic fire rapidly spread throughout Paris’s historic Notre-Dame—the medieval Gothic Cathedral and French landmark—causing both the spire and roof to collapse. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "The Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris Catches Fire," 15 Apr. 2019 The debunked theory that the MMR vaccine causes autism has been trumpeted on platforms such as YouTube and Facebook, as well as through professional-looking websites and pamphlets, and by celebrities such as Jenny McCarthy. Ryan Blethen, The Seattle Times, "How do you persuade people to vaccinate? Clark County measles outbreak highlights the difficulties," 13 Apr. 2019 About a third of business and financial economists surveyed in the past week as part of The Wall Street Journal’s monthly poll said an hourly minimum wage above the current level of $7.25 an hour but below $10 would cause job losses. Harriet Torry, WSJ, "Raising Minimum Wage Would Cost Jobs, Say Economists in WSJ Survey," 11 Apr. 2019 The Air Force is concerned that such junk banging around inside aircraft during flight could cause damage, particularly to the aircraft’s electrical system, threatening the safety of the aircraft. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Air Force Stops Deliveries of Trash-Filled KC-46 Tankers Yet Again," 3 Apr. 2019 Also, Camkiran notes that friction from working out at the gym could cause future irritation on the skin. Maya Allen, Marie Claire, "How to Make Your Bikini Wax Less Painful, According to Experts," 1 Apr. 2019 The housing cost spike that started in the mid-2000s at the tail end of the pre-Recession building boom was initially caused by increases in material costs; the continued rise is now mostly a factor of rising labor costs. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Rising labor costs send the price of house construction skyward," 17 Dec. 2018 Just days after federal testing found asbestos in Claire's and Justice cosmetics products, Congress is now weighing in on the presence of cancer-causing chemicals in makeup. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "So, About the FDA Finding Asbestos in Claire's Makeup: Here's What the Government Is Doing About It," 12 Mar. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cause.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of cause

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cause

Noun

Middle English, borrowed from Anglo-French, borrowed from Latin causa "judicial proceedings, interests of one side in a judicial case, plea, pretext, ground of action, motive, reason," of uncertain origin

Verb

Middle English causen, borrowed from Anglo-French & Medieval Latin; Anglo-French causer, borrowed from Medieval Latin causāre, causārī "to plead, accuse, blame, serve as the cause of, occasion," going back to Latin causārī "to plead an action in law, plead as an excuse," derivative of causa "judicial proceedings, plea, cause entry 1"

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about cause

Statistics for cause

Last Updated

23 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for cause

The first known use of cause was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for cause

cause

noun

English Language Learners Definition of cause

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: something or someone that produces an effect, result, or condition : something or someone that makes something happen or exist
: a reason for doing or feeling something
: something (such as an organization, belief, idea, or goal) that a group or people support or fight for

cause

verb

English Language Learners Definition of cause (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make (something) happen or exist : to be the cause of (something)
: to make (someone) feel, have, or do something

cause

noun
\ ˈkȯz How to pronounce cause (audio) \

Kids Definition of cause

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : a person or thing that brings about a result Carelessness is the cause of many accidents.
2 : a good or good enough reason for something His return was a cause for rejoicing.
3 : something supported or deserving support a worthy cause

cause

verb
caused; causing

Kids Definition of cause (Entry 2 of 3)

: to make happen or exist You'll cause an accident.

cause

conjunction
\ ˈkȯz How to pronounce cause (audio) , ˈkəz\

Kids Definition of cause (Entry 3 of 3)

cause

noun

Legal Definition of cause

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : something that brings about an effect or result the negligent act which was the cause of the plaintiff's injury

Note: The cause of an injury must be proven in both tort and criminal cases.

actual cause
: cause in fact in this entry
but-for cause
: cause in fact in this entry
cause in fact
: a cause without which the result would not have occurred

called also actual cause, but-for cause

concurrent cause
: a cause that joins simultaneously with another cause to produce a result

called also concurring cause

— compare intervening cause and superseding cause in this entry
direct cause
: proximate cause in this entry
efficient intervening cause
: superseding cause in this entry
intervening cause
1 : an independent cause that follows another cause in time in producing the result but does not interrupt the chain of causation if foreseeable

called also supervening cause

— compare concurrent cause and superseding cause in this entry
2 : superseding cause in this entry
legal cause
: proximate cause in this entry
procuring cause
: one (as a broker) that sets in motion a continuous series of events culminating especially in the sale or leasing of real estate entitled to a commission as the procuring cause of the sale even though the listing had expired
producing cause
: an efficient, exciting, or contributing cause (as an act, practice, or event) that produces an injury which would not have occurred without it claimed that the workplace accident was a producing cause of his disability used especially in workers' compensation and consumer protection cases

Note: A producing cause lacks the element of foreseeability associated with a proximate cause, being more exclusively concerned with causation in fact.

proximate cause
: a cause that sets in motion a sequence of events uninterrupted by any superseding causes and that results in a usually foreseeable effect (as an injury) which would not otherwise have occurred

called also direct cause, legal cause

— see also Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co. — compare remote cause in this entry
remote cause
: a cause that is followed by a superseding cause interrupting the chain of causation also : a cause that in ordinary experience does not lead to a particular effect — compare proximate cause in this entry
superseding cause
: an unforeseeable intervening cause that interrupts the chain of causation and becomes the proximate cause of the effect

called also efficient intervening cause, intervening cause

— compare concurrent cause and intervening cause in this entry
supervening cause
: intervening cause in this entry
2 : a reason or justification for an action or state (as belief): as
a : good cause in this entry an appeal dismissed for cause
b : just cause in this entry behavior that constitutes cause to terminate an employee

Note: The circumstances under which cause, good cause, just cause, probable cause, reasonable cause, or sufficient cause exists are determined on a case by case basis. These terms are often used interchangeably, and the distinctions between them are sometimes unclear.

good cause
: a substantial reason put forth in good faith that is not unreasonable, arbitrary, or irrational and that is sufficient to create an excuse for an act under the law unable to show good cause for failure to pay child support neglect of duty is good cause for removal of a trustee
just cause
1 : cause that a person of ordinary intelligence would consider a fair and reasonable justification for an act used especially in cases involving termination of employment and denial of unemployment benefits
2 : good cause in this entry
probable cause \ ˈprä-​bə-​bəl-​ \
1 : a reasonable ground in fact and circumstance for a belief in the existence of certain circumstances (as that an offense has been or is being committed, that a person is guilty of an offense, that a particular search will uncover contraband, that an item to be seized is in a particular place, or that a specific fact or cause of action exists) when supported by probable cause, warrantless search of vehicle may extend to every part of vehicle where objects of search might be concealedState v. Nixon, 593 N.E.2d 1210 (1992)

called also reasonable cause, sufficient cause

— compare reasonable suspicion

Note: The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution stipulates that “no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause.” Probable cause is also required for a warrantless arrest. Probable cause is an objective standard rather than a function of subjective opinion or suspicion not grounded in fact or circumstance. However, the facts or circumstances need not be of the nature of certainty necessary to establish proof in court.

2 : justification for an administrative search based on a showing that it is to be conducted in accordance with standardized nonarbitrary regulatory procedures designed to further public interest in regulatory enforcement that outweighs the intrusiveness of the search
reasonable cause
1 : probable cause in this entry also : a fact or circumstance that justifies a reasonable suspicion — compare reasonable suspicion
2 : a reason that would motivate a person of ordinary intelligence under the circumstances reasonable cause to believe abuse had occurred
3 : something (as an event or the exercise of ordinary care or prudence) that excuses or justifies failure to file a tax return on time
sufficient cause
: cause that is deemed enough to provide an excuse under the law: as
a : good cause in this entry often used in the phrase good and sufficient cause
b : probable cause in this entry
3a : a ground of a legal action tortious conduct is not a cause of divorce embraced within the statutory cause of cruel and inhuman treatmentCase & Comment
b : case questions of law…determinative of the cause then pending— R. T. Gerwatowski
4 in the civil law of Louisiana : the reason for making a contract — compare frustration sense 2

Note: Under the Louisiana Civil Code, if a contract's cause is illicit or immoral, the contract is absolutely null. If the cause fails after the contract is made (as when a leased building cannot be occupied because of a fire), the contract may either be not enforced or only partially enforced.

caused; causing

Legal Definition of cause (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to serve as the cause of the scales struck the plaintiff causing injuries for which she suesPalsgraf v. Long Island R.R. Co., 162 N.E. 99 (1928)
2 : to effect by command, authority, or force the administrator shall cause an investigation to be made

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on cause

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cause

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cause

Spanish Central: Translation of cause

Nglish: Translation of cause for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cause for Arabic Speakers

Comments on cause

What made you want to look up cause? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

having no equal

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!