[ keys ]
/ keɪs /
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See synonyms for: case / cases / casing on Thesaurus.com

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Idioms about case

Origin of case

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.


caseless, adjectivecase·less·ly, adverb


encase, in case

Other definitions for case (2 of 2)

[ keys ]
/ keɪs /

verb (used with object), cased, cas·ing.

Origin of case

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”


caser, nounwell-cased, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is a basic definition of case?

A case is an instance or example of something, a container for storing something, or a matter that is being investigated by law enforcement or official agents. Case has many other senses as a noun and a verb.

A case is something you can point to as an example of something. This sense of case is often used in reference to illness, such as a patient having a bad case of malaria.

Real-life examples: If you go out in a thunderstorm with an umbrella and a raincoat, that would be a case of good judgement. The stone Sphinx in Egypt is a case of the amazing building powers of the ancient Egyptians.

Used in a sentence: I had a minor case of food poisoning yesterday. 

A case is also a box or container that is used to keep something safe. It is usually small and is often designed specifically for a particular item. Sometimes, another term is used with case to describe exactly what is supposed to be stored in the case, as in knife case.

Real-life examples: Guitars are often stored in guitar cases. Many people keep their eyeglasses in a glasses case. Smokers might have a cigarette case.

Used in a sentence: He tried to break into the jewelry case.

Lastly, a case is a matter or investigation that law enforcement or other officials are pursuing or working on. Detectives and other investigators are likely to be assigned or take on cases that they must research and try to find details about.

Real-life examples: Police detectives often get assigned murder cases, burglary cases, kidnapping cases, and many other cases that require investigation. The famous fictional detective Sherlock Holmes pursued many interesting cases that required his amazing deductive skills.

Used in a sentence: The detective gathered clues while investigating the arson case. 

Where does case come from?

The first records of case come from before the 1150s. The sense of case meaning “an instance” ultimately comes from the Latin cāsus, meaning “a befalling” or “an occurrence.” The sense of case meaning “a container” ultimately comes from the Latin capsa, meaning “a receptacle for books.”

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What are some other forms related to case?

  • caseless (adjective)
  • caselessly (adverb)
  • caser (noun)
  • well-cased (adjective)

What are some synonyms for case?

What are some words that share a root or word element with case

What are some words that often get used in discussing case?

How is case used in real life?

Case is a very common word that most often means an example or an instance.



Try using case!

Is case used correctly in the following sentence?

He forgot his keys at home in another case of bad memory.

How to use case in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for case (1 of 2)

/ (keɪs) /


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) /

verb (tr)
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


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.