from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An instance of something; an occurrence; an example: a case of mistaken identity. See Synonyms at example.
  • n. An occurrence of a disease or disorder: a mild case of flu.
  • n. A set of circumstances or a state of affairs; a situation: It may rain, in which case the hike will be canceled.
  • n. Actual fact; reality: We suspected the walls were hollow, and this proved to be the case.
  • n. A question or problem; a matter: It is simply a case of honor.
  • n. A situation that requires investigation, especially by a formal or official body.
  • n. Law An action or a suit or just grounds for an action.
  • n. Law The facts or evidence offered in support of a claim.
  • n. A set of reasons or supporting facts; an argument: presented a good case for changing the law.
  • n. A person being assisted, treated, or studied, as by a physician, lawyer, or social worker.
  • n. Informal A peculiar or eccentric person; a character.
  • n. Linguistics In traditional grammar, a distinct form of a noun, pronoun, or modifier that is used to express one or more particular syntactic relationships to other words in a sentence.
  • n. Linguistics In some varieties of generative grammar, the thematic or semantic role of a noun phrase as represented abstractly but not necessarily indicated overtly in surface structure. In such frameworks, nouns in English have Case even in the absence of inflectional case endings.
  • idiom in any case Regardless of what has occurred or will occur.
  • idiom in case If it happens that; if.
  • idiom in case As a precaution: took along an umbrella, just in case.
  • idiom in case of If there should happen to be: a number to call in case of emergency.
  • idiom off (someone's) case No longer nagging or urging someone to do something.
  • idiom on (someone's) case Persistently nagging or urging someone to do something.
  • n. A container; a receptacle: a jewelry case; meat-filled cases of dough.
  • n. A container with its contents.
  • n. A decorative or protective covering or cover.
  • n. A set or pair: a case of pistols.
  • n. The frame or framework of a window, door, or stairway.
  • n. The surface or outer layer of a metal alloy.
  • n. Printing A shallow compartmented tray for storing type or type matrices.
  • transitive v. To put into or cover with a case; encase.
  • transitive v. Slang To examine carefully, as in planning a crime: cased the bank before robbing it.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A box that contains or can contain a number of identical items of manufacture.
  • n. A piece of luggage that can be used to transport an apparatus such as a sewing machine.
  • n. A suitcase.
  • n. A piece of furniture, constructed partially of transparent glass or plastic, within which items can be displayed.
  • n. The outer covering or framework of a piece of apparatus such as a computer.
  • n. The nature of a piece of alphabetic type, whether a “capital” (upper case) or “small” (lower case) letter.
  • n. Four of a kind.
  • n. A unit of liquid measure used to measure sales in the beverage industry equivalent to 192 fluid ounces.
  • adj. The last remaining card of a particular rank.
  • v. To place (an item or items of manufacture) into a box, as in preparation for shipment.
  • v. To survey (a building or other location) surreptitiously, as in preparation for a robbery.
  • n. An actual event, situation, or fact.
  • n. A given condition or state.
  • n. A piece of work, specifically defined within a profession.
  • n. An instance or event as a topic of study.
  • n. A legal proceeding, lawsuit.
  • n. A specific inflection of a word depending on its function in the sentence.
  • n. Grammatical cases and their meanings taken either as a topic in general or within a specific language.
  • n. An instance of a specific condition or set of symptoms.
  • n. A section of code representing one of the actions of a conditional switch.
  • v. To propose hypothetical cases.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A box, sheath, or covering.
  • n. A box and its contents; the quantity contained in a box.
  • n. A shallow tray divided into compartments or “boxes” for holding type.
  • n. An inclosing frame; a casing.
  • n. A small fissure which admits water to the workings.
  • n. Chance; accident; hap; opportunity.
  • n. That which befalls, comes, or happens; an event; an instance; a circumstance, or all the circumstances; condition; state of things; affair.
  • n. A patient under treatment; an instance of sickness or injury; ; also, the history of a disease or injury.
  • n. The matters of fact or conditions involved in a suit, as distinguished from the questions of law; a suit or action at law; a cause.
  • n. One of the forms, or the inflections or changes of form, of a noun, pronoun, or adjective, which indicate its relation to other words, and in the aggregate constitute its declension; the relation which a noun or pronoun sustains to some other word.
  • intransitive v. To propose hypothetical cases.
  • transitive v. To cover or protect with, or as with, a case; to inclose.
  • transitive v. To strip the skin from.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To put cases; bring forward propositions.
  • To cover or surround with a case; surround with any material that incloses or protects; incase.
  • Specifically — In architecture, to face or cover (the outside wall of a building) with material of a better quality than that of the wall itself.
  • In plastering, to plaster (as a house) with mortar on the outside, and strike a ruler laid on it while moist with the edge of a trowel, so as to mark it with lines resembling the joints of freestone, In glass-making, to “plate” or cover (glass) with a layer of a different color. In bookbinding, to cover with a case. See case, n., 7.
  • In printing, to put into the proper compartments of compositors' cases; lay: as, to case a font of type.
  • To remove the case or skin of; uncase; skin.
  • To cover one's self with something that constitutes a casing.
  • To bring into the desired ‘case’ or condition; specifically, in the tobacco trade, to bring the leaf into the desired condition as to moisture and pliability, and the admixture of ingredients to give flavor, etc. See case, n., 9, *caser, n., and *casing, n. Also spelled in the trade, kase.
  • n. Literally, that which happens or befalls. Hap; contingency; event; chance.
  • n. State; condition; state of circumstances.
  • n. A particular determination of events or circumstances; a special state of things coming under a general description or rule.
  • n. In medicine, an instance of disease under or requiring medical treatment, or the series of occurrences or symptoms which characterize it: as, the doctor has many cases of fever in hand; the patient explained his case.
  • n. A state of things involving a question for discussion or decision.
  • n. Specifically
  • n. In law: A cause or suit in court; any instance of litigation: as, the case was tried at the last term.
  • n. The state of facts or the presentation of evidence on which a party to litigation relies for his success, whether as plaintiff or defendant: as, in cross-examining plaintiff's witness, defendant has no right to go beyond the limits of the direct examination, for such inquiries are part of his own case.
  • n. Under American procedure, a document prepared by the appellant on an appeal, containing the evidence, or the substance of it, and the proceedings on the trial in the court below.
  • n. In grammar, in many languages, one of the forms having different offices in the sentence which together make up the inflection of a noun: as, the nominative case, that of the subject of the verb, as he, dominus (Latin); the accusative or objective case, as him, dominum; the genitive or possessive case, as his (John's), domini.
  • n. A person who is peculiar or remarkable in any respect: as, a queer case; a hard case: sometimes used without qualification: as, he is a case.
  • n. In logic, a proposition stating a fact coming under a general rule; a subsumption.
  • n. That which incloses or contains; a covering, box, or sheath: as, a case for knives; a case for books; a watch-case; a pillow-case.
  • n. Specifically A quiver.
  • n. The skin of an animal; in heraldry, the skin of a beast displayed with the head, feet, tail, etc.
  • n. The exterior portion of a building; an outer coating for walls.
  • n. A box and its contents; hence, a quantity contained in a box. Specifically — A pair; a set.
  • n. Among glaziers, 225 square feet of crown-glass; also, 120 feet of Newcastle or Normandy glass.
  • n. In printing, a shallow tray of wood divided by partitions into small boxes of different sizes, in which the characters of a font of printing-types are placed for the use of the compositor.
  • n. In bookbinding, a book-cover made separately from the book it is intended to inclose.
  • n. A triangular sac or cavity in the right side of the nose and upper portion of the head of a sperm-whale, containing oil and spermaceti, which are together called head-matter.
  • n. 9. In milit. engin., a square or rectangular frame made from four pieces of plank joined at the corners, used (in juxtaposition to similar frames) to form a lining for a gallery or branch.
  • n. In loam-molding, the outer portion of a mold. Also called cope.
  • n. In porcelain-making, same as saggar.
  • n. Milit., same as case-shot.
  • n. In mining, a fissure through which water finds its way into a mine.
  • n. The wooden frame in which a door is hung. Also called casing.
  • n. The wall surrounding a staircase. Also called casing.
  • n. In the tobacco trade, the state of the leaf, during and after the process of curing, with respect to moisture-content and pliability: common in such phrases as in case (more or less moist), in good case (with the right degree of moisture), too high case, etc. See order, 17.
  • n. An action brought, usually by agreement between parties, in which the constitutionality or validity of an act will be brought in question and judicially determined.
  • n. In the postal service, a series of open boxes or large pigeonholes in which letters are placed in assorting them for distribution. Each box is for a particular place, and the distributor, standing at a table in a post-office or railway postal car, throws each letter into the proper box in the case.
  • n. Nautical, the outside planking of a vessel.
  • n. In whaling, the well or hole in the head of a sperm-whale, which contains, in a free state, the most valuable oil given by it.
  • n. In faro, a card when it is the only one of its denomination remaining in the dealing-box.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a person requiring professional services
  • n. a glass container used to store and display items in a shop or museum or home
  • n. (printing) the receptacle in which a compositor has his type, which is divided into compartments for the different letters, spaces, or numbers
  • v. enclose in, or as if in, a case
  • n. a special set of circumstances
  • n. the quantity contained in a case
  • v. look over, usually with the intention to rob
  • n. nouns or pronouns or adjectives (often marked by inflection) related in some way to other words in a sentence
  • n. bed linen consisting of a cover for a pillow
  • n. the housing or outer covering of something
  • n. a portable container for carrying several objects
  • n. an occurrence of something
  • n. a specific state of mind that is temporary
  • n. a person who is subjected to experimental or other observational procedures; someone who is an object of investigation
  • n. a comprehensive term for any proceeding in a court of law whereby an individual seeks a legal remedy
  • n. a statement of facts and reasons used to support an argument
  • n. a problem requiring investigation
  • n. a person of a specified kind (usually with many eccentricities)
  • n. the enclosing frame around a door or window opening
  • n. the actual state of things
  • n. a specific size and style of type within a type family
  • n. an enveloping structure or covering enclosing an animal or plant organ or part


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English cas, from Old French, from Latin cāsus, from past participle of cadere, to fall.
Middle English, from Norman French casse, from Latin capsa.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English cas, from Old English cas, casus ("noun case"), 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”).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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").


  • In either case, the blood will reflow upon the heart, and dilate the left ventricle, as in _case the first_, and others; and, if the mitral valves be thickened and rigid, the left auricle will be more dilated than in a case of simple aneurism of the left ventricle, as appeared also in the _first case_.

    Cases of Organic Diseases of the Heart

  • Evidence and economic theory suggests that control of the Internet by the phone and cable companies would lead to blocking of competing technologies (as in theMadison River case), blocking of innovative technologiesthat may not even compete with the phone/cablecartel (according to Comcast itself, theComcast/BitTorrent case would be an example), andincreased spying on Internet users.

    Marvin Ammori: Models for the Internet's Future: Obama-Open or Julius-Closed

  • So, when we place a noun before a verb as actor or subject, we say it is in the _nominative case_; but when it follows a transitive verb or preposition, we say it has another _case_; that is, it assumes a new _position_ or _situation_ in the sentence: and this we call the _objective_ case.

    English Grammar in Familiar Lectures

  • +_Remember_+ that a noun or pronoun used as an _explanatory modifier_ is in the same case as the word which it explains, and that a noun or pronoun used _independently_ is in the _nominative case_.

    Graded Lessons in English an Elementary English Grammar Consisting of One Hundred Practical Lessons, Carefully Graded and Adapted to the Class-Room

  • If it be ‘case’ (I choose it as Jargon’s dearest child—‘in Heaven yclept Metonomy’) turn to the dictionary, if you will, and seek out what meaning can be derived from casus, its Latin ancestor: then try how, with a little trouble, you can extricate yourself from that case.

    V. Interlude: On Jargon

  • It says ‘In the case of John Jenkins deceased, the coffin’ when it means ‘John Jenkins’s coffin’: and its yea is not yea, neither is its nay nay: but its answer is in the affirmative or in the negative, as the foolish and superfluous ‘case’ may be.

    V. Interlude: On Jargon

  • But here are a few specimens far, very far, worse: —The special difficulty in Professor Minocelsi’s case [our old friend ‘case’ again] arose in connexion with the view he holds relative to the historical value of the opening pages of Genesis.

    V. Interlude: On Jargon

  • It cannot be too emphatically insisted upon that every case of typhoid, like every case of yellow fever and of malaria, _comes from a previous case_.

    Preventable Diseases

  • It reaches _the case, the question_; it attaches the power of the national judicature to the _case_ itself, in whatever court it may arise or exist; and in this _case_ the Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction over all courts whatever.

    Select Speeches of Daniel Webster, 1817-1845

  • A Whig proves his case convincingly to the reader who knows nothing beyond his author; then comes an old Tory (Carte, for instance), and ferrets up a hamperful of conflicting documents and notices, which proves _his _case _per contra_.

    Specimens of the Table Talk of Samuel Taylor Coleridge


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  • Making love, of course, is already prayer.

    Skin, and open mouths worshipping that skin,

    the fragile cases we are poured into.

    - Ellen Bass, 'Pray For Peace'.

    September 7, 2009