- Offensive. a person who has had all four limbs amputated.
- a person who is helpless or incapable of functioning normally, especially due to overwhelming stress, anxiety, or the like.
- anything that is impaired or incapable of functioning: Right after the war the conquered nation was considered an economic basket case.
Origin of basket case
Examples from the Web for basket case
Contemporary Examples of basket case
So is Phoenix finally ready to drop the basket-case act and play nice in Hollywood?The Return of Joaquin Phoenix: Oscar Buzz for ‘The Master’
September 17, 2012
- a person who is suffering from extreme nervous strain; nervous wreck
- mainly US and Canadian taboo a person who has had both arms and both legs amputated
- someone or something that is incapable of functioning normally
- (as modifier)a basket-case economy
1919, American English, originally a reference to rumors of quadriplegics as a result of catastrophic wounds suffered in World War I (the military vehemently denied there were any such in its hospitals), from basket (n.) + case (n.2). Probably literal, i.e., stuck in a basket, but basket had colloquial connotations of poverty (begging) and helplessness long before this. Figurative sense of "person emotionally unable to cope" is from 1921.
A person or thing too impaired to function. For example, The stress of moving twice in one year left her a basket case, or The republics of the former Soviet Union are economic basket cases. Originating in World War I for a soldier who had lost all four limbs in combat and consequently had to be carried in a litter (“basket”), this term was then transferred to an emotionally or mentally unstable person and later to anything that failed to function. [Slang; second half of 1900s]