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 victims of the fire have yet to be identified by the fire marshal’s office, and the cause of the fire is under investigation. Mary Grace Keller, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "Sykesville fire: Investigators ‘confident’ smoke alarms weren’t present. The state could be responsible.," 15 Nov. 2019 The Maricopa Medical Examiner’s Office determined the cause of death was end-stage renal disease complicated by acute pneumonia, with heat-exposure contributing to the man's death, according to the Attorney General. Chris Coppola, azcentral, "Chandler care-home operators plead guilty in death of resident after air-conditioning failed," 15 Nov. 2019 The cause of death was unknown at the time, but it has been ruled a homicide. Levi Edwards | Ledwards@al.com, al, "Woman arrested, charged for killing her husband, police say," 14 Nov. 2019 The cause of the incident is still under investigation by the Burlington Fire and Police Departments, with assistance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Benjamin Vanhoose, PEOPLE.com, "Massachusetts Buffalo Wild Wings Reopens After Death of Manager Ryan Baldera in Cleaning Accident," 11 Nov. 2019 The cause of asthma is still largely unknown, but experts believe there are genetic, environmental, and occupational factors linked to the disease, like exposure to mold or dampness, allergens like dust mites, and even secondhand tobacco smoke. Leah Groth, Health.com, "13-Year-Old Broadway Star Laurel Griggs Dies from Asthma Attack—Here's How That Can Happen," 11 Nov. 2019 The cause of most pancreatic cancer cases is unknown, but there is evidence that smoking, being overweight, a family history of pancreatic cancer and chronic pancreatitis could increase risk of developing the disease. Sophie Lewis, CBS News, "Teen "Jeopardy!" champion donates $10,000 to cancer research in Alex Trebek's honor," 6 Nov. 2019 Shakers MarketPlace is partnering in this cause to create full meals, including a 10- to 12-pound turkey with all the fixings. cleveland, "Families enjoy skele-fun at Halloween safety event: Olmsted Dates and Data," 26 Oct. 2019 Throughout his life, Nicolás was involved in civic causes. Los Angeles Times, "Emilio Nicolas Sr., Spanish-language media trailblazer who gave us Univision, dies," 23 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb William Stoops, a University of Kentucky professor who studies drug and alcohol addiction, said longtime cocaine use causes cardiovascular problems, which raises the risk of dying from an overdose even before fentanyl is added to the mix. NBC News, "Death toll from tainted cocaine rising across the country," 17 Nov. 2019 Nine students have died at the University of Southern California (USC) this semester, causing alarm on campus and leading students to demand more mental health resources. Katie Reilly, Time, "After Deaths of 9 Students, USC Is Opening a New Psychiatric Clinic," 17 Nov. 2019 There is no way to predict which of those plaques will break open and cause a heart attack. New York Times, "Surgery for Blocked Arteries Is Often Unwarranted, Researchers Find," 16 Nov. 2019 The Tigers have won back-to-back Class 3A state titles, causing a jump to 4A this season. Matthew Vantryon, Indianapolis Star, "Insider: Northwestern won't say it, so I will. The Tigers are the team to beat.," 16 Nov. 2019 While most people recover within a week, some illnesses lead to kidney failure, causing serious damage to the kidneys and possible death. oregonlive, "New Seasons expands beef recall a second time after E. coli contamination," 16 Nov. 2019 It is understood that reform takes time, but the premier’s flip flopping on some of the issues has caused uneasiness with his leadership. Yohannes Gedamu, Quartz Africa, "Ethiopians are losing faith in prime minister Abiy’s promises for peace," 16 Nov. 2019 The 1940s saw exceptional earnings growth combined with a 5% dividend yield but investors were still scarred from the Great Depression so sentiment actually caused returns to be somewhat pedestrian. Ben Carlson, Fortune, "What Powered Such a Great Decade For Stocks? This Formula Explains It All," 16 Nov. 2019 An unknown person caused damage to a school Nov. 2 in the 3300 block of Manvel Road, police said. Jennifer James, Houston Chronicle, "6 arrested on narcotics charges in Pearland," 15 Nov. 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

Time Traveler for cause

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for cause

Last Updated

19 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Cause.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/causing. Accessed 21 November 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for cause

cause

noun
How to pronounce cause (audio)

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.
\ 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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cause

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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

strength of mind

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

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!