formal cause

[ fawr-muh l ]
/ ˈfɔr məl /

noun Aristotelianism.

See under cause(def 8b).

Origin of formal cause

Middle English word dating back to 1350–1400

Definition for formal cause (2 of 2)


[ kawz ]
/ kɔz /


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

to be the cause of; bring about.

Origin of cause

1175–1225; Middle English < Latin causa reason, sake, case


Related forms

Can be confused

causality causation 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. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for formal cause


/ (kɔːz) /



(tr) to be the cause of; bring about; precipitate; be the reason for

Derived Forms

causable, 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

Idioms and Phrases with formal 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.