• Case


    • IPA: /keɪs/
    • Rhymes: -eɪs

    Origin 1

    From Middle English cas, from Old French cas ("an event"), from Latin casus ("a falling, a fall; accident, event, occurrence; occasion, opportunity; noun case"), perfect passive participle of cado ("to fall, to drop"), from Proto-Indo-European *kad- ("to fall").

    Full definition of case



    (plural cases)
    1. An actual event, situation, or fact.
      For a change, in this case, he was telling the truth.
      It is not the case that every unfamiliar phrase is an idiom.
      In case of fire, break glass. on fire extinguisher holder in public space
      • 2013-07-20, The attack of the MOOCs, Since the launch early last year of  two Silicon Valley start-ups offering free education through MOOCs, massive open online courses, the ivory towers of academia have been shaken to their foundations. University brands built in some cases over centuries have been forced to contemplate the possibility that information technology will rapidly make their existing business model obsolete.
    2. (now rare) A given condition or state.
    3. A piece of work, specifically defined within a profession.
      It was one of the detective's easiest cases.  Social workers should work on a maximum of forty active cases.  The doctor told us of an interesting case he had treated that morning.
      • 1898, Winston Churchill, The Celebrity Chapter 2, We drove back to the office with some concern on my part at the prospect of so large a case. Sunning himself on the board steps, I saw for the first time Mr. Farquhar Fenelon Cooke.
      • 1927, F. E. Penny, Pulling the Strings Chapter 4, The case was that of a murder. It had an element of mystery about it, however, which was puzzling the authorities. A turban and loincloth soaked in blood had been found; also a staff. These properties were known to have belonged to a toddy drawer. He had disappeared.
    4. (academia) An instance or event as a topic of study.
      The teaching consists of theory lessons and case studies.
    5. (legal) A legal proceeding, lawsuit.
      • 1905, w, w:The Case of Miss Elliott Chapter 2, “Two or three months more went by ; the public were eagerly awaiting the arrival of this semi-exotic claimant to an English peerage, and sensations, surpassing those of the Tichbourne case, were looked forward to with palpitating interest. 
    6. (grammar) A specific inflection of a word depending on its function in the sentence.
      The accusative case canonically indicates a direct object.  Latin has six cases, and remnants of a seventh.
    By contrast, the Subject of an infinitive Clause is assigned Objective case, as we see from:
    (17)   I want to leave for Hawaii tomorrow
    And the Subject of a gerund Clause is assigned either Objective or Genitive case: cf.
    (18)   I don't like the idea of leaving for Hawaii tomorrow
    1. (grammar, uncountable) Grammatical cases and their meanings taken either as a topic in general or within a specific language.
      Jane has been studying case in Caucasian languages.  Latin is a language that employs case.
    2. (medicine) An instance of a specific condition or set of symptoms.
      There were another five cases reported overnight.
    3. (computing, programming) A section of code representing one of the actions of a conditional switch.
      • 2004, Rick Miller, C++ for ArtistsPlace a break statement at the end of every case to prevent case fall-through.
      • 2011, Stephen Prata, C++ Primer Plus (page 275)Execution does not automatically stop at the next case.



    1. (obsolete) To propose hypothetical cases.
      • L'EstrangeCasing upon the matter.

    Origin 2

    From Middle English cas, from Old Northern French casse, Old French chasse ("box, chest, case"), from Latin capsa ("box, bookcase"), from capio ("to take, seize, hold").



    (plural cases)
    1. A box that contains or can contain a number of identical items of manufacture.
    2. A box, sheath, or covering generally.a case for spectacles; the case of a watch
    3. A piece of luggage that can be used to transport an apparatus such as a sewing machine.
    4. An enclosing frame or casing.a door case; a window case
    5. A suitcase.
    6. A piece of furniture, constructed partially of transparent glass or plastic, within which items can be displayed.
    7. The outer covering or framework of a piece of apparatus such as a computer.
    8. (printing, historical) A shallow tray divided into compartments or "boxes" for holding type, traditionally arranged in sets of two, the "upper case" (containing capitals, small capitals, accented) and "lower case" (small letters, figures, punctuation marks, quadrats, and spaces).
    9. (typography, by extension) The nature of a piece of alphabetic type, whether a “capital” (upper case) or “small” (lower case) letter.
    10. (poker slang) Four of a kind.
    11. (US) A unit of liquid measure used to measure sales in the beverage industry, equivalent to 192 fluid ounces.
    12. (mining) A small fissure which admits water into the workings.



    1. (poker slang) The last remaining card of a particular rank.He drew the case eight!


    1. (transitive) To place (an item or items of manufacture) into a box, as in preparation for shipment.
    2. (transitive) To cover or protect with, or as if with, a case; to enclose.
      • PrescottThe man who, cased in steel, had passed whole days and nights in the saddle.
    3. (transitive, informal) To survey (a building or other location) surreptitiously, as in preparation for a robbery.
      • 1977, Michael Innes, The Gay Phoenix, ISBN 9780396074427, p. 116:You are in the grounds of Brockholes Abbey, a house into which a great deal of valuable property has just been moved. And your job is to case the joint for a break in.
      • 2014, Amy Goodman, From COINTELPRO to Snowden, the FBI Burglars Speak Out After 43 Years of Silence (Part 2), Democracy Now!, January 8, 2014, 0:49 to 0:57:Bonnie worked as a daycare director. She helped case the FBI office by posing as a college student interested in becoming an FBI agent.


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