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cause célèbre

[kawz suh-leb-ruh, -leb; French kohz sey-leb-ruh] /ˈkɔz səˈlɛb rə, -ˈlɛb; French koʊz seɪˈlɛb rə/
noun, plural causes célèbres
[kawz suh-leb-ruh z, 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/ (Show IPA)
1.
any controversy that attracts great public attention, as a celebrated legal case or trial.
Origin
1755-1765
1755-65; < French: literally, famous case
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for cause-célèbre

cause célèbre

/ˈkɔːz səˈlɛbrə; -ˈlɛb; French koz selɛbrə/
noun (pl) causes célèbres (ˈkɔːz səˈlɛbrəz; -ˈlɛb; ˈkɔːzɪz səˈlɛbrə; -ˈlɛbz; French) (koz selɛbrə)
1.
a famous lawsuit, trial, or controversy
Word Origin
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
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cause-célèbre in Culture
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 American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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