Definition of basket case in English:

basket case

Line breaks: bas¦ket case


  • 1A person or thing regarded as useless or unable to cope: do that for a couple of days and you become a blithering basket case
    More example sentences
    • Ask me to read in front of people now, and I become a basket case.
    • I am working very hard not to be a basket case, but doing an extremely poor job.
    • Just before my injection, I became an emotional basket case and made a fool of myself.
  • 1.1A country or organization that is in severe financial or economic difficulties, especially one that is unable to pay its debts: sudden meltdowns—such as the financial crisis—can turn flourishing countries into basket cases overnight
    More example sentences
    • The country has no oil, virtually no natural resources of any kind, and is surrounded by bullies and basket cases.
    • The region is an economic basket case.
    • The country is a basket case and needs to be left to its own devices.


early 20th century: originally US slang denoting a soldier who had lost all four limbs, thus unable to move independently.

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