WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF CAUSE CÉLÈBRE?

Cause célèbre is a French phrase still unnaturalized in English, meaning “famous (legal) case.” French cause comes from Latin causa “legal proceedings, trial”; célèbre comes from Latin celeber (inflectional stem celebr-) “crowded, busy, well-attended, famous.” Causes célèbres in the U.S. include the Scopes Trial, maybe more commonly known as the Monkey Trial (1925) about the teaching of evolution, and the O.J. Simpson Trial (1994–95). The term is also used more broadly to refer to any controversy that attracts great public attention. Cause célèbre entered English in the second half of the 18th century.

HOW IS CAUSE CÉLÈBRE USED?

The case eventually became a global cause célèbre; Bob Dylan wrote a song about it, Denzel Washington starred in a movie about it.

Krajnc’s case became a cause celebre among animal protection activists, some of whom have established groups modeled on Toronto Pig Save, and attracted the support of celebrities including the singer Moby, who offered financial support.

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