Sense: 1-5, 7-16
Date: 1200-1300
Language: Old French
Origin: cas, from Latin casus 'fall, chance', from cadere 'to fall'
Sense: 6
Date: 1200-1300
Language: Old North French
Origin: casse, from Latin capsa 'box, case', from capere 'to take'


1 noun
case1 S1 W1


[countable] an example of a particular situation or of something happening
case of
There were 16 cases of damage to cars in the area.
in the case of something
The amount of fruit in fruit juices must be 6% in the case of berries and 10% in the case of other fruits.
in some/many/most etc cases
In many cases standards have improved.
Tom's career is a case in point (=a clear example of something that you are discussing or explaining).
a classic case (=typical example) of poor design


[countable usually singular] a situation that exists, especially as it affects a particular person or group
in somebody's case
Like the others, he produced a written explanation, but in Scott's case this was a 30-page printed booklet.
Changing men's and women's traditional roles is not easy, but in our case it has been helpful.
it is the case (that)
It may be the case that the scheme will need more money.
We tend to think of these people as untrustworthy, but that is not the case.
in this case
In this case, several solutions could be tried.
in which case
He won't want to eat it unless he's really hungry, in which case he'll eat almost anything.

(just) in case

a) as a way of being safe from something that might happen or might be true:
Take an umbrella, in case it rains.
He had his camera ready, just in case he saw something that would make a good picture.
b) American English if:
In case I'm late, start without me.

in any case

whatever happens or happened:
I don't see why I couldn't do it. In any case, I'm going to try.
He's too young to come and in any case I want him to spend the time with Mom.

in that case

if that is the situation:
'He didn't want to talk to Sally.' 'In that case why did he agree to meet her?'


[countable usually singular] a set of reasons why something should happen or be done:
Let me research the facts before I put forward a case.
case for
A group of us met to make our case for more women in the cabinet.
There is a strong case (=very good set of reasons) for getting parents more involved in the school's activities.


a) SCL a question or problem that will be dealt with by a law court:
The case will be heard in the High Court.
She is keen to avoid a court case.
The lawyers will only be paid if they win the case.
He lost the case.
case against
Marshall has dropped the case against us.
b) SCL all the reasons that one side in a legal argument can give against the other side:
The evidence does not support the prosecution's case.
The court ruled that we had a case (=had enough good arguments to go to a law court).
c) an event or set of events that need to be dealt with by the police in order to find out if a crime has been committed and who committed it
case of
a case of armed robbery
on the case
Around 50 police officers are on the case.


a) D a large box or container in which things can be stored or moved:
a packing case
a case of wine
b) D a special box used as a container for holding or protecting something:
a jewellery case
Jim put his violin back in its case.
c) British EnglishDLT a suitcase:
Polly carried her cases upstairs to the bedroom.
bookcase, briefcase, pillowcase

it's a case of something

spoken used before describing a situation:
Everyone can learn, it's just a case of practising.
It's a case of too many people and not enough jobs.


[countable] an example of a disease or a person who has a disease
case of
There are thousands of new cases of AIDS in Africa every year.

in case of something

used to describe what you should do in a particular situation, especially on official notices:
In case of fire, break the glass.


[uncountable and countable]SLG technical the way in which the form of a word changes, showing its relationship to other words in a sentence:
case endings

be on somebody's case

informal to be criticizing someone continuously:
Dad's always on my case about something or other.

be on the case

spoken if someone says they are on the case, they know about a problem and are going to try to solve it

get off my case

spoken used to tell someone to stop criticizing you or complaining about you:
OK, OK, just get off my case!


[countable] someone who is being dealt with by a doctor, a social worker, the police etc basket case, nutcase
lower case

; ➔ I rest my case

at rest2 (9), upper case

(just) in case
in case is followed by the simple present, the simple past, or 'should' Write it down in case you forget (NOT in case you will forget). I had a snack, just in case there was no time (NOT in case there would be no time) to eat later. Here's a contact number, in case there should (NOT will/would) be a problem. WORD CHOICE: in this case, in this respect Do not use in this/that case to refer to a particular aspect of something. Use in this/that respect He supports the death penalty, and in that respect (NOT in that case) I think he is wrong. Computers can search for information much more quickly than humans, and in this respect (NOT in this case) they are more efficient.

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