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cause

from Latin causa 1) v. to make something happen. 2) n. the reason something happens. A cause implies what is called a "causal connection" as distinguished from events which may occur but do not have any effect on later events. Example: While driving his convertible, Johnny Youngblood begins to stare at pretty Sally Golightly, who is standing on the sidewalk. While so distracted he veers into a car parked at the curb. Johnny's inattention (negligence) is the cause of the accident, and neither Sally nor her beauty is the cause. 3) n. short for cause of action.

See also: cause of action  proximate cause 

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The People's Law Dictionary by Gerald and Kathleen Hill Publisher Fine Communications

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