cause célèbre

[ kawzsuh-leb-ruh, -leb; French kohz sey-leb-ruh ]
See synonyms for cause célèbre on
noun,plural causes cé·lè·bres [kawzsuh-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/.
  1. any controversy that attracts great public attention, as a celebrated legal case or trial.

Origin of cause célèbre

First recorded in 1755–65; from French: literally, “famous case”

Words Nearby cause célèbre Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use cause célèbre in a sentence

  • Then came the cause celebre, as it may be called, of the day, the trial of Xenophon himself.

    Callias | Alfred John Church
  • Within twenty-four hours the Iams case became a National cause celebre.

    Homestead | Arthur G. Burgoyne

British Dictionary definitions for cause célèbre

cause célèbre

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

nounplural causes célèbres (ˈkɔːz səˈlɛbrəz, -ˈlɛb, ˈkɔːzɪz səˈlɛbrə, -ˈlɛbz, French koz selɛbrə)
  1. a famous lawsuit, trial, or controversy

Origin of 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.