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A cause célèbre (plural causes célèbres, French-language for "celebrated cause") is an issue or incident arousing widespread controversy, outside campaigning and heated public debate.[1] The term is particularly used in connection with celebrated legal cases.[2] It is a French phrase in common usage in English. The phrase originated with the 37-volume Nouvelles Causes Célèbres, published in 1763, which was a collection of reports of well-known French court decisions from the 17th and 18th centuries.


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