Definitions from Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition and Ballentine's Law Dictionary as are available for each term in each dictionary.
  • Ballentine's Law Dictionary

    An action or suit; consideration; motive; origin.

  • Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition

    That which produces an effect; whatever moves, impels or leads. The origin or foundation of a thing, as of a suit or action; a ground of action. Corning v. McCullough, 1 N. Y. 47, 49 Am. Dee, 287; State v. Dougherty, 4 Or. 203. The consideration of a contract, that is, the inducement to it, or motive of the contracting party for entering into it, is, in the civll and Scotch law, called the "cause." The civilians use the term "cause," in relation to obligations, in the same sense as the word "consideration" is used in the jurisprudence of England and the United States. It means the motive, the inducement to the agreement,—id quod inducet ad contrahendum. In contracts of mufual interest, the cause of the engagement is the thing given or done, or engaged to be given or done, or the risk incurred by one of the parties. Mouton v. Noble, 1 La. Ann. 192. In pleading. Reason; motive; matter of excuse or justification. In practice. A suit, litigation, or action. Any question, civil or criminal, contested before a court of justice. Cause imports a judicial proceeding entire, and is nearly synonymous with lie in Latin, or suit in English. Although allied to the word "case," it differs from it in the application of its meaning. A cause is pending, postponed, appealed, gained, lost, etc.; whereas a case is made, rested, argued, decided, etc. Case is of a more limited signification, importing a collection of facis, with the conclusion of law thereon. Both terms may be used with propriety in the same sentence ; e. g., on the trini of the cause, the plaintiff introduced certain evidence, and there rested his case. See Shirts v. Irons, 47 Ind. 445 ; Blyew . U. S., 13 Wall. 581, 20 In Ed. 638 ; Erwin v. U. S., 37 Fed. 470, 2 L. R. A. 229. A distinction is sometimes taken between "cause" and "action." Burrill observes that a cause is not, like an action or suit, said to be commenced, nor is an action, like a cause, said to be tried. But, if there is any substantial difference between these terms, it must lie in the fact that "action" refers more peculiarly to the legal procedure of a controversy ; "cause" to its merits or the state of facts involved. Thus, we cannot say "the cause should have been replevin." Nor would it be correct to say "the plaintiff pleaded his own action." As to "Probable Cause" and "Proximate Cause," see those titles. As to challenge "fur cause," see "Challenge."