Share this entry

basket case Line breaks: bas¦ket case

Definition of basket case in English:


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.


First World War: originally US slang denoting a soldier who had lost all four limbs, thus unable to move independently.

Definition of basket case in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources