1

cause

noun \ ˈkȯz \
Updated on: 17 Nov 2017

Definition of cause

1 a : 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
2 a : 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.
4 a : a principle or movement militantly defended or supported
  • the insurgents' cause
b : a charitable undertaking
  • for a good cause

causeless

play \-ləs\ adjective

Examples of cause in a Sentence

  1. His symptoms had no apparent physical causes.

  2. She is the cause of all their problems.

  3. The medicine was prescribed without good cause.

  4. Their marriage was a cause for celebration.

  5. I can support a cause that means something to me.

  6. I'm willing to donate money as long as it's for a good cause.

Recent Examples of cause from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of cause

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


2

cause

verb

Definition of cause

caused; causing
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

causer

noun

Examples of cause in a Sentence

  1. He swerved and caused an accident.

  2. The flood caused great hardship.

  3. The illness is caused by a virus.

  4. The flood caused the town great hardship.

  5. You caused us a lot of extra work.

Recent Examples of cause from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of cause

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, 1cause"



CAUSE Defined for English Language Learners

cause

noun

Definition of cause for English Language Learners

  • : 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

Definition of cause for English Language Learners

  • : to make (something) happen or exist : to be the cause of (something)

  • : to make (someone) feel, have, or do something


CAUSE Defined for Kids

1

cause

noun \ ˈkȯz \

Definition of cause for Students

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

2

cause

verb

Definition of cause for Students

caused; causing
: to make happen or exist
  • You'll cause an accident.

3

cause

conjunction \ ˈkȯz , ˈkəz \

Definition of cause for Students


Law Dictionary

1

cause

noun

legal Definition of cause

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 concealed
  • State 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
3 a : a ground of a legal action
  • tortious conduct is not a cause of divorce embraced within the statutory cause of cruel and inhuman treatment
  • Case & 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 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.

2

cause

transitive verb

legal Definition of cause

caused; causing
1 : to serve as the cause of
  • the scales struck the plaintiff causing injuries for which she sues
  • Palsgraf 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


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