upper case


noun Printing.

See under case2(def 8).

Nearby words

  1. upper austria,
  2. upper bound,
  3. upper canada,
  4. upper canadian,
  5. upper carboniferous,
  6. upper chamber,
  7. upper chinook,
  8. upper class,
  9. upper crust,
  10. upper darby

Origin of upper case

First recorded in 1675–85




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.
Faro. casebox.
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.
Cards Slang.
  1. to arrange (cards or a pack of cards) in a dishonest manner.
  2. to remember the quantity, suit, or denomination of (the cards played).

Origin of case

1250–1300; Middle English cas < Anglo-French cas(s)e, Old French chasse < Latin capsa cylindrical case for holding books in scroll form, receptacle

Related formscas·er, nounwell-cased, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for upper case

British Dictionary definitions for upper case




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
  1. a person attended or served by a doctor, social worker, solicitor, etc; patient or client
  2. (as modifier)a case study
  1. an action or suit at law or something that forms sufficient grounds for bringing an actionhe has a good case
  2. the evidence offered in court to support a claim
  1. 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
  2. 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
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)
  1. in order to allow for eventualities
  2. (as conjunction)in order to allow for the possibility thattake your coat in case it rains
  3. USif
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




  1. a container, such as a box or chest
  2. (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

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


the top half of a compositor's type case in which capital letters, reference marks, and accents are kept

adjective (upper-case when prenominal)

of or relating to capital letters kept in this case and used in the setting or production of printed or typed matter

verb upper-case

(tr) to print with upper-case letters; capitalize
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

Word Origin and History for upper case
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for upper case




An occurrence of a disease or disorder.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Culture definitions for upper 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.

Idioms and Phrases with upper case


In addition to the idiom beginning with case

  • case in point

also see:

  • 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.