verb (used with object), caused, caus·ing.

to be the cause of; bring about.


    make common cause, to unite in a joint effort; work together for the same end: They made common cause with neighboring countries and succeeded in reducing tariffs.

Origin of cause

1175–1225; Middle English < Latin causa reason, sake, case
Related formscaus·a·ble, adjectivecaus·a·bil·i·ty, nouncause·less, adjectivecause·less·ly, adverbcause·less·ness, nouncaus·er, nounnon·caus·a·ble, adjectiveself-caused, adjectivesub·cause, nounun·caus·a·ble, adjectiveun·der·cause, noun
Can be confusedcausality causation cause

Synonyms for cause

Synonym study

1. Cause, occasion refer to the starting of effects into motion. A cause is an agency, perhaps acting through a long time, or a long-standing situation, that produces an effect: The cause of the quarrel between the two men was jealousy. An occasion is an event that provides an opportunity for the effect to become evident, or perhaps promotes its becoming evident: The occasion was the fact that one man's wages were increased. 3. See reason.


[kawz, kuhz, unstressed kuh z]

conjunction Informal.

Origin of 'cause

1400–50; late Middle English; aphetic variant Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cause

Contemporary Examples of cause

Historical Examples of cause

  • She put her arms about her neck, and affectionately inquired the cause of her distress.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • Here, perhaps, may be found the symbolic clue to the strife's cause.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • He'll think he's been the cause of it, by stealing your heart from me.

  • The cause of freedom owes her much; the country owes her much.

  • The breaking of Hope's engagement to Philip was attributed to every cause but the true one.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

British Dictionary definitions for cause



a person, thing, event, state, or action that produces an effect
grounds for action; motive; justificationshe had good cause to shout like that
the ideals, etc, of a group or movementthe Communist cause
the welfare or interests of a person or group in a disputethey fought for the miners' cause
a matter of widespread concern or importancethe cause of public health
  1. a ground for legal action; matter giving rise to a lawsuit
  2. the lawsuit itself
(in the philosophy of Aristotle) any of four requirements for a thing's coming to be, namely material (material cause), its nature (formal cause), an agent (efficient cause), and a purpose (final cause)
make common cause with to join with (a person, group, etc) for a common objective


(tr) to be the cause of; bring about; precipitate; be the reason for
Derived Formscausable, adjectivecausability, nouncauseless, adjectivecauser, noun

Word Origin for cause

C13: from Latin causa cause, reason, motive
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for cause

c.1200, "reason for action, grounds for action; motive," from Old French cause "cause, reason; lawsuit, case in law" (12c.), and directly from Latin causa "a cause; a reason; interest; judicial process, lawsuit," of unknown origin.

In English, sense of "matter of concern; side taken in controversy" is from c.1300; that of "the source of an effect" is early 14c.; meaning "reason for something taking place" is late 14c. Cause célèbre "celebrated legal case" is 1763, from French. Cause why? "for what reason?" is in Chaucer.


late 14c., "produce an effect," also "impel, compel," from Old French causer "to cause" (13c.) and directly from Medieval Latin causare, from Latin causa "a cause; a reason; interest; judicial process, lawsuit," of unknown origin. Related: Caused; causing. Classical Latin causari meant "to plead, to debate a question."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with cause


In addition to the idioms beginning with cause

  • cause a commotion
  • cause raised eyebrows

also see:

  • lost cause
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.