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/ keɪs /
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an instance of the occurrence, existence, etc., of something: Sailing in such a storm was a case of poor judgment.
the actual state of things: That is not the case.
a question or problem of moral conduct; matter: a case of conscience.
situation; circumstance; plight: Mine is a sad case.
a person or thing whose plight or situation calls for attention: This family is a hardship case.
a specific occurrence or matter requiring discussion, decision, or investigation, as by officials or law-enforcement authorities: The police studied the case of the missing jewels.
a stated argument used to support a viewpoint: He presented a strong case against the proposed law.
an instance of disease, injury, etc., requiring medical or surgical attention or treatment; individual affliction: She had a severe case of chicken pox.
a medical or surgical patient.
- a suit or action at law; cause.
- a set of facts giving rise to a legal claim, or to a defense to a legal claim.
- a category in the inflection of nouns, pronouns, and adjectives, noting the syntactic relation of these words to other words in the sentence, indicated by the form or the position of the words.
- a set of such categories in a particular language.
- the meaning of or the meaning typical of such a category.
- such categories or their meanings collectively.
Informal. a peculiar or unusual person: He's a case.
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Idioms about case
get / be on someone's case, Slang. to bother or nag someone; meddle in someone's affairs: Her brother is always on her case about getting married. Why do you keep getting on my case?
get off someone's case, Slang. to stop bothering or criticizing someone or interfering in someone's affairs: I've had enough of your advice, so just get off my case.
have a case on, Slang. to be infatuated with: He had a case on the girl next door.
in any case, regardless of circumstances; be that as it may; anyhow: In any case, there won't be any necessity for you to come along.
in case, if it should happen that; if: In case I am late, don't wait to start dinner.
in case of, in the event of; if there should be: In case of an error in judgment, the group leader will be held responsible.
in no case, under no condition; never: He should in no case be allowed to get up until he has completely recovered from his illness.
Origin of case1
First recorded before 1150; Middle English ca(a)s, from Anglo-French, Old French cas, from Latin cāsus “fall, accident, event, grammatical case” (translation of Greek ptôsis ), equivalent to cad(ere) “to fall” + -tus suffix of verb action; compare Old English cāsus “grammatical case”
synonym study for case
1. Case, instance, example, illustration suggest the existence or occurrence of a particular thing representative of its type. Case and instance are closely allied in meaning, as are example and illustration. Case is a general word, meaning a fact, occurrence, or situation typical of a class: a case of assault and battery. An instance is a concrete factual case which is adduced to explain a general idea: an instance of a brawl in which an assault occurred. An example is one typical case, usually from many similar ones, used to make clear or explain the working of a principle (what may be expected of any others of the group): This boy is an example of the effect of strict discipline. An illustration exemplifies a theory or principle similarly, except that the choice may be purely hypothetical: The work of Seeing Eye dogs is an illustration of what is thought to be intelligence in animals.
OTHER WORDS FROM casecaseless, adjectivecase·less·ly, adverb
WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH caseencase, in case
Other definitions for case (2 of 2)
[ keys ]
/ keɪs /
an often small or portable container for enclosing something, as for carrying or safekeeping; receptacle: a jewel case.
a sheath or outer covering: a knife case.
a box with its contents: a case of ginger ale.
the amount contained in a box or other container: There are a dozen bottles to a case.
a pair or couple; brace:a case of pistols.
a surrounding frame or framework, as of a door.
Bookbinding. a completed book cover ready to be fitted to form the binding of a book.
Printing. a tray of wood, metal, or plastic, divided into compartments for holding types for the use of a compositor and usually arranged in a set of two, the upper (upper case ) for capital letters and often auxiliary types, the lower (lower case ) for small letters and often auxiliary types, now generally replaced by the California job case. Compare news case.
a cavity in the skull of a sperm whale, containing an oil from which spermaceti is obtained.
Also called case card. Cards. the last card of a suit or denomination that remains after the other cards have been played: a case heart; the case jack.
Southeastern U.S. (chiefly South Carolina). a coin of a particular denomination, as opposed to the same amount in change: a case quarter.
Metallurgy. the hard outer part of a piece of casehardened steel.
verb (used with object), cased, cas·ing.
to put or enclose in a case; cover with a case.
Slang. to examine or survey (a house, bank, etc.) in planning a crime (sometimes followed by out): They cased the joint and decided to pull the job on Sunday.
to fuse a layer of glass onto (glass of a contrasting color or of different properties).
to cover (a surface of a wall, well, shaft, etc.) with a facing or lining; revet.
Bookbinding. to bind (a book) in a case.
- to arrange (cards or a pack of cards) in a dishonest manner.
- to remember the quantity, suit, or denomination of (the cards played).
Origin of case2
First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English cas, from Anglo-French cas(s)e, Old French chasse, from Latin capsa “cylindrical case for holding books in scroll form, receptacle”
OTHER WORDS FROM casecaser, nounwell-cased, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
British Dictionary definitions for case (1 of 2)
/ (keɪs) /
a single instance, occurrence, or example of something
an instance of disease, injury, hardship, etc
a question or matter for discussionthe case before the committee
a specific condition or state of affairs; situation
a set of arguments supporting a particular action, cause, etc
- a person attended or served by a doctor, social worker, solicitor, etc; patient or client
- (as modifier)a case study
- an action or suit at law or something that forms sufficient grounds for bringing an actionhe has a good case
- the evidence offered in court to support a claim
- a set of grammatical categories of nouns, pronouns, and adjectives, marked by inflection in some languages, indicating the relation of the noun, adjective, or pronoun to other words in the sentence
- any one of these categoriesthe nominative case
informal a person in or regarded as being in a specified conditionthe accident victim was a hospital case; he's a mental case
informal a person of a specified character (esp in the phrase a hard case)
informal an odd person; eccentric
US informal love or infatuation
short for case shot See canister (def. 2b)
as the case may be according to the circumstances
in any case (adverb) no matter what; anyhowwe will go in any case
in case (adverb)
- in order to allow for eventualities
- (as conjunction) in order to allow for the possibility thattake your coat in case it rains
- US if
in case of (preposition) in the event of
in no case (adverb) under no circumstancesin no case should you fight back
Word Origin for case
Old English casus (grammatical) case, associated also with Old French cas a happening; both from Latin cāsus, a befalling, occurrence, from cadere to fall
British Dictionary definitions for case (2 of 2)
/ (keɪs) /
- a container, such as a box or chest
- (in combination)suitcase; briefcase
an outer cover or sheath, esp for a watch
a receptacle and its contentsa case of ammunition
a pair or brace, esp of pistols
architect another word for casing (def. 3)
a completed cover ready to be fastened to a book to form its binding
printing a tray divided into many compartments in which a compositor keeps individual metal types of a particular size and style. Cases were originally used in pairs, one (the upper case) for capitals, the other (the lower case) for small lettersSee also upper case, lower case
metallurgy the surface of a piece of steel that has been case-hardened
to put into or cover with a caseto case the machinery
slang to inspect carefully (esp a place to be robbed)
Word Origin for case
C13: from Old French casse, from Latin capsa, from capere to take, hold
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cultural definitions for case
A grammatical category indicating whether nouns and pronouns are functioning as the subject of a sentence (nominative case) or the object of a sentence (objective case), or are indicating possession (possessive case). He is in the nominative case, him is in the objective case, and his is in the possessive case. In a language such as English, nouns do not change their form in the nominative or objective case. Only pronouns do. Thus, ball stays the same in both “the ball is thrown,” where it is the subject, and in “Harry threw the ball,” where it is the object.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Other Idioms and Phrases with case
In addition to the idiom beginning with case
- case in point
- basket case
- get down to brass tacks (cases)
- have a case on
- in any case
- in case of
- in no case
- in the case of
- just in case
- make a federal case
- off someone's back (case)
- open and shut case
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.