Meaning of CAUSE in English


I. cause 1 S2 W1 /kɔːz $ kɒːz/ BrE AmE noun

[ Date: 1200-1300 ; Language: Old French ; Origin: Latin causa ]

1 . [countable] a person, event, or thing that makes something happen ⇨ effect

cause of

Breast cancer is the leading cause of death for American women in their 40s.

It’s our job to establish the cause of the fire.

► Do not say ‘the cause for something’. Say the cause of something .

2 . [uncountable] a fact that makes it right or reasonable for you to feel or behave in a particular way SYN reason

cause for

There is no cause for alarm.

The patient’s condition is giving cause for concern.

The present political climate gives little cause for optimism.

have (good) cause to do something

His father has good cause to be proud of him.

with/without good cause

Many people are worried about the economy, and with good cause.

3 . [countable] an aim, belief or organization that a group of people support or fight for:

My father fought for the Nationalist cause.

cause of

her lifelong devotion to the cause of women’s rights

He has championed the cause of independence (=he has supported it publicly) .

You can get fit, and at the same time raise money for a worthy cause.

Please give generously – it’s all in a good cause (=done in order to help people) .

4 . have/make common cause (with/against somebody) formal to join with other people or groups in order to oppose an enemy:

U.S. officials expect other Western governments to make common cause with them over the arrests.

5 . [countable] law a case that is brought to a court of law

⇨ lost cause at ↑ lost 2 (12)

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COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 1)

■ adjectives

▪ a common cause of something

Alcohol is the most common cause of road accidents.

▪ the main/primary cause of something

Smoking is the main cause of lung disease.

▪ a major/leading cause of something

In this country, debt is a major cause of homelessness.


Drug abuse is the leading cause of crime and violence.

▪ a direct/indirect cause

Government policies are the direct cause of the problems facing the economy.

▪ the root cause (=the most basic cause)

People often deal with the symptoms rather than the root cause of a problem.

▪ the fundamental/underlying cause (=the root cause)

The underlying cause of insomnia is often anxiety.

▪ the probable/likely cause

The probable cause of the fire was faulty wiring.

■ verbs

▪ discover/find the cause

An investigation has failed to discover the cause of the epidemic.

▪ determine/establish/identify the cause (=discover definitely what it is)

A team of experts is at the scene of the accident, trying to determine the cause.

▪ investigate the cause

Police are still investigating the cause of the fire.

■ phrases

▪ the cause of death

A snake bite was the cause of death.

▪ die of/from natural causes (=die of illness, old age etc, not because of an accident or crime)

He died from natural causes, believed to be a heart attack.

▪ cause and effect (=the idea that one thing directly causes another)

What happened was simply a question of cause and effect.

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 3)

■ adjectives

▪ a good cause (=one that is worth supporting, for example a charity)

The money we are raising is for a good cause.

▪ a worthy/deserving cause (=a good cause)

The Red Cross is a very worthy cause.

▪ a just cause (=an aim that is fair and right)

The rebels believed that they were fighting for a just cause.

▪ a noble cause (=an aim that is morally good)

He died for a noble cause.

▪ the Nationalist/Republican etc cause (=their aims and organization)

The election results were a serious blow to the Nationalist cause.

■ verbs

▪ support a cause

Giving money is only one way of supporting a good cause.

▪ fight for a cause (=take action to achieve an aim)

Young people often want to fight for a cause.

▪ champion a cause (=publicly support an aim)

He has championed the cause of renewable energy since the 1980s.

▪ advance/further/promote a cause (=help to achieve an aim)

He did much to advance the cause of freedom.

▪ be committed to a cause (=believe in an aim very strongly)

We are committed to the cause of racial justice.

▪ be sympathetic to a cause (=understand an aim, and possibly support it)

They hope the new President will be sympathetic to their cause.

II. cause 2 S1 W1 BrE AmE verb [transitive]

to make something happen, especially something bad:

Heavy traffic is causing delays on the freeway.

The fire caused £15,000 worth of damage.

cause something for somebody

The oil spill is causing problems for coastal fisheries.

cause concern/uncertainty/embarrassment etc

The policy changes have caused great uncertainty for the workforce.

I’m sorry if I caused any confusion.

cause somebody trouble/problems etc

You’ve caused us all a lot of unnecessary worry.

Sorry, I didn’t mean to cause offence (=offend you) .

cause somebody/something to do something

What caused you to change your mind?

► Do not say ‘cause that someone does something’. Say cause someone to do something .


In everyday English, people usually use the expression make somebody do something rather than cause somebody to do something :

What made you change your mind?

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COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 1 )

■ nouns

▪ cause a problem

The heavy rain has been causing serious problems on the roads.

▪ cause trouble

I decided not to complain because I didn’t want to cause trouble.

▪ cause damage

A fire had broken out and caused severe damage to the roof.

▪ cause (a) disease

Scientists are trying to find out what causes the disease.

▪ cause injury

Rugby is one of the sports that are most likely to cause injury.

▪ cause pain

The infection can cause severe pain.

▪ cause death

The famine caused the death of up to 400,000 people.

▪ cause (a) delay

Bad weather caused delays at many airports.

▪ cause an accident

75% of accidents are caused by speeding.

▪ cause chaos/disruption

Floods caused chaos across much of the country.

▪ cause concern/alarm

Environmental issues are causing widespread concern.

▪ cause confusion

Teachers say the reforms will cause confusion in schools.

▪ cause offence/embarrassment (=offend/embarrass someone)

How can I refuse the invitation without causing offence?

• • •


▪ cause to make something happen, especially something bad:

Bad weather has caused a lot of problems on the roads.


The fault caused the whole computer system to shut down.

▪ make somebody/something do something to cause someone to do something, or cause something to happen. Make is less formal than cause , and is the usual word to use in everyday English:

What made you decide to become a teacher?


I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you cry.


Gravity is the force which makes the planets move round the Sun.

▪ be responsible for something if someone or something is responsible for something bad, they caused it to happen:

The excessive heat was responsible for their deaths.


A small militant group was responsible for the bombing.

▪ bring about something to make something happen – used especially about changes or improvements:

The Internet has brought about enormous changes in society.


It’s important that we do everything we can to bring about peace.

▪ result in something if an action or event results in something, it makes that thing happen:

The fire resulted in the deaths of two children.


The decision is likely to result in a large number of job losses.

▪ lead to something to cause something to happen eventually after a period of time:

The information led to several arrests.


A poor diet in childhood can lead to health problems later in life.

▪ trigger if one event triggers another, it suddenly makes the second event happen:

The incident triggered a wave of violence.


An earthquake off Java’s southern coast triggered a tsunami.

▪ precipitate formal to make a very serious event happen very suddenly, which will affect a lot of people:

The withdrawal of foreign investment would precipitate an economic crisis.


The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand precipitated World War I.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.