cause célèbre

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cause cé·lè·bre

 (kôz′ sə-lĕb′, kōz′ sā-lĕb′rə)
n. pl. causes cé·lè·bres (kôz′ sə-lĕb′, kōz′ sā-lĕb′rə)
1. An issue arousing widespread controversy or heated public debate.
2. A celebrated legal case.

[French : cause, case + célèbre, celebrated.]

cause célèbre

(ˈkɔːz səˈlɛbrə; -ˈlɛb; French koz selɛbrə)
n, pl causes célèbres (ˈkɔːz səˈlɛbrəz; -ˈlɛb; ˈkɔːzɪz səˈlɛbrə; -ˈlɛbz; French koz selɛbrə)
(Communications & Information) a famous lawsuit, trial, or controversy
[C19: from French: famous case]

cause cé•lè•bre

(ˈkɔz səˈlɛb; Fr. koʊz seɪˈlɛb rə)

n., pl. causes cé•lè•bres (ˈkɔz səˈlɛb; Fr. koʊz seɪˈlɛb rə)
any controversy that attracts great public attention.
[1755–65; < French: literally, famous case]

cause célèbre

A French phrase meaning famous case, used to refer to any matter or issue that arouses great public interest or controversy.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.cause celebre - an incident that attracts great public attention
incident - a single distinct event
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References in periodicals archive ?
The preservation of 12 Dorset Street, one of the great causes celebres of the conservation movement, was a costly farce," the Independent reported.
Enraged by what he saw as religious intolerance and a miscarriage of justice, Voltaire made Calas' case one of the causes celebres of eighteenth-century public life, and a lightening rod for those who opposed not only religious intolerance, but also the entrenched judicial procedure that used testimony taken under torture and condemned individuals to death for it.
A dispute over debts between a family of commoners and an aristocrat, a conflict between seigneur and villagers over the control of a local festival, a case of international insider trading on the stockmarket, an affair of fraud and deception over a necklace for a queen, an indictment for theft, a death sentence for a servant accused of poisoning an old man, a domestic dispute over abandonment by a husband, and a case of adultery by a wife: these disparate sources of litigation riveted the attention of the literate elite as causes celebres during the last two decades of the Old Regime in France.