1. That which produces or effects a result; that from which anything proceeds, and without which it would not exist.
Cause is substance exerting its power into act, to make one thing begin to be. --Locke.
2. That which is the occasion of an action or state; ground; reason; motive; as, cause for rejoicing.
3. Sake; interest; advantage. [Obs.]
I did it not for his cause. --2 Cor. vii. 12.
4. Law A suit or action in court; any legal process by which a party endeavors to obtain his claim, or what he regards as his right; case; ground of action.
5. Any subject of discussion or debate; matter; question; affair in general.
What counsel give you in this weighty cause! --Shak.
6. The side of a question, which is espoused, advocated, and upheld by a person or party; a principle which is advocated; that which a person or party seeks to attain.
God befriend us, as our cause is just. --Shak.
The part they take against me is from zeal to the cause. --Burke.
Efficient cause, the agent or force that produces a change or result.
Final cause, the end, design, or object, for which anything is done.
Formal cause, the elements of a conception which make the conception or the thing conceived to be what it is; or the idea viewed as a formative principle and cooperating with the matter.
Material cause, that of which anything is made.
Proximate cause. See under Proximate.
To make common cause with, to join with in purposes and aims.
Syn: -- Origin; source; mainspring; motive; reason; incitement; inducement; purpose; object; suit; action.
1. Belonging to the form, shape, frame, external appearance, or organization of a thing.
2. Belonging to the constitution of a thing, as distinguished from the matter composing it; having the power of making a thing what it is; constituent; essential; pertaining to or depending on the forms, so called, of the human intellect.
Of [the sounds represented by] letters, the material part is breath and voice; the formal is constituted by the motion and figure of the organs of speech. --Holder.
3. Done in due form, or with solemnity; according to regular method; not incidental, sudden or irregular; express; as, he gave his formal consent.
His obscure funeral . . .
No noble rite nor formal ostentation. --Shak.
4. Devoted to, or done in accordance with, forms or rules; punctilious; regular; orderly; methodical; of a prescribed form; exact; prim; stiff; ceremonious; as, a man formal in his dress, his gait, his conversation.
A cold-looking, formal garden, cut into angles and rhomboids. --W. Irwing.
She took off the formal cap that confined her hair. --Hawthorne.
5. Having the form or appearance without the substance or essence; external; as, formal duty; formal worship; formal courtesy, etc.
6. Dependent in form; conventional.
Still in constraint your suffering sex remains,
Or bound in formal or in real chains. --Pope.
7. Sound; normal. [Obs.]
To make of him a formal man again. --Shak.
Formal cause. See under Cause.
Syn: -- Precise; punctilious; stiff; starched; affected; ritual; ceremonial; external; outward.
Usage: -- Formal, Ceremonious. When applied to things, these words usually denote a mere accordance with the rules of form or ceremony; as, to make a formal call; to take a ceremonious leave. When applied to a person or his manners, they are used in a bad sense; a person being called formal who shapes himself too much by some pattern or set form, and ceremonious when he lays too much stress on the conventional laws of social intercourse. Formal manners render a man stiff or ridiculous; a ceremonious carriage puts a stop to the ease and freedom of social intercourse.