cause of action

noun phrase

: the grounds (such as violation of a right) that entitle a plaintiff to bring a suit

Word History

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of cause of action was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near cause of action

Cite this Entry

“Cause of action.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Feb. 2023.

Legal Definition

cause of action

: the grounds (as violation of a right) that entitle a plaintiff to bring a suit
an amended pleading reiterating a cause of action for lost profitsJ. H. Friedenthal et al.
also : the part of a suit brought on those grounds
removed the cause of action to the district court
: right of action sense 1
the court, led by Justice Brennan, said Congress intended to provide a private cause of actionNational Law Journal
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?