cause célèbre

[ kawz suh-leb-ruh, -leb; French kohz sey-leb-ruh ]
/ ˈkɔz səˈlɛb rə, -ˈlɛb; French koʊz seɪˈlɛb rə /

noun, plural causes cé·lè·bres [kawz suh-leb-ruhz, suh-lebz, kaw-ziz suh-leb-ruh, -leb; French kohz sey-leb-ruh]. /ˈkɔz səˈlɛb rəz, səˈlɛbz, ˈkɔ zɪz səˈlɛb rə, -ˈlɛb; French koʊz seɪˈlɛb rə/.

any controversy that attracts great public attention, as a celebrated legal case or trial.

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Origin of cause célèbre

1755–65; <French: literally, famous case
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

British Dictionary definitions for cause célèbre

cause célèbre
/ (ˈkɔːz səˈlɛbrə, -ˈlɛb, French koz selɛbrə) /

noun plural causes célèbres (ˈkɔːz səˈlɛbrəz, -ˈlɛb, ˈkɔːzɪz səˈlɛbrə, -ˈlɛbz, French koz selɛbrə)

a famous lawsuit, trial, or controversy

Word Origin for cause célèbre

C19: from French: famous case
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

Cultural definitions for cause célèbre

cause célèbre
[ (kohz say-leb-ruh, kawz suh-leb-ruh) ]

A cause or issue, generally political, that arouses public opinion: “The question of the draft was a cause célèbre in the 1960s.” From French, meaning “celebrated cause.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.