There are 2 main definitions of case in English:

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case 1

Pronunciation: /keɪs/


1An instance of a particular situation; an example of something occurring: a case of mistaken identity in many cases farmers do have a deep feeling for their land
More example sentences
  • While they may not have been perfect before the work, in many cases, they are far worse afterwards.
  • Unfortunately, in many cases, the first real symptom is a broken bone.
  • He said that in many cases, workers had been mistreated or had been denied their rights because of language barriers.
instance, occurrence, occasion, manifestation, demonstration, exhibition, exposition, expression;
1.1 [usually in singular] The situation affecting or relating to a particular person or thing: I’ll make an exception in your case
More example sentences
  • In her case, it has the opposite effect.
  • It was particularly painful in my case because I had my heart set on the very thing he was achieving.
  • In our case, I can say there were specific benefits, which will not apply to you.
the situation, the position, the picture, the state of affairs, the state of play, the lie of the land;
plight, predicament;
event, contingency;
circumstances, conditions, facts;
how things stand, what's going on
informal kettle of fish, ball game, score, story, set-up
1.2An incident or set of circumstances under official investigation by the police: a murder case
More example sentences
  • To date no one from the community has voluntarily come forward to provide any details to police on the case.
  • Twenty-five officers are working on the case and an incident room has been set up at York.
  • Police are treating the case as attempted murder and a major incident room and full inquiry team has been set up.
2An instance of a disease, injury, or problem: 200,000 cases of hepatitis B
More example sentences
  • Diabetes and hypertension are the underlying causes in most cases of chronic kidney disease.
  • But he said a lot of work was being done to raise awareness and combat rising cases of diseases like chlamydia in the town.
  • How many cases of mumps, measles, or rubella would the lack of vaccination of this number of children produce?
patient, sick person, invalid, sufferer, victim;
2.1A person or their particular problem requiring or receiving medical or welfare attention: most breast cancer cases were older women the local social services discussed Gemma’s case urgent cases were turned away from the hospital
More example sentences
  • The most severe cases are medical emergencies and require the skilled care of a physician in hospital to avoid death.
  • Severe cases require treatment in hospital with antibiotics.
  • Less than one per cent of the substantiated cases required medical care for broken bones or head trauma.
2.2 [with adjective or noun modifier] informal A person whose situation is regarded as pitiable or as having no chance of improvement: Vicky was a very sad case
More example sentences
  • Ok, call me a terminal sad case but this is probably going to end up in my cupboard.
  • What is clear is that we now have a leader of the National Party who is a very sad case.
  • He is a devoted doctor who is adamant to make the make the best out of hopeless cases.
2.3 informal, dated An amusing or eccentric person.
Example sentences
  • I checked out the whole joint, mate, and the verdict is in: you're a case.
  • "He's a case," said Father Jerry.
  • She's a case and a half. You love to hate her don't you?
3A legal action, especially one to be decided in a court of law: a libel case a former employee brought the case against the council
More example sentences
  • The Supreme Court has ruled that prosecutors may bring the case back to court if his health improves.
  • Ten minutes later a power failure in the High Court brought the manslaughter case to a stop.
  • There are very few important cases decided by this Court that don't offend somebody.
lawsuit, action, legal action, suit, suit at law, cause, legal cause, trial, proceedings, legal proceeding(s), judicial proceedings, litigation, legal process, legal dispute, indictment
3.1A set of facts or arguments supporting one side in a legal case: the case for the defence
More example sentences
  • The Applicant did have a fair hearing and the opportunity of presenting his side of the case.
  • At the end of his summing up he gave the jury a brief reminder of the way both sides put their cases in counsel's final speeches.
  • Indeed, I consider that, if anything, it supports his case on lack of motive for the loss.
3.2A set of facts or arguments supporting one side of a debate or controversy: the case against tobacco advertising
More example sentences
  • They will also argue an economic case against membership.
  • He has travelled literally thousands of miles to argue the case against war and occupation.
  • If disaster movies are to be the new currency of scientific debate, who will make the case against alarmism?
argument, contention, reasoning, logic, defence, justification, vindication, apology, polemic;
statement, postulation, explanation, exposition, thesis, presentation, proclamation, expounding, claim;
plea, appeal, petition
3.3 (also case stated) An agreed summary of the facts relating to a legal case, drawn up for review or decision on a point of law by a higher court.
Example sentences
  • I have answered the questions posed by the magistrates in the case stated in the final paragraph of the judgment.
  • The following material facts appear from the case stated.
  • The case stated then went on to summarise the decision of the Crown Court.
4 Grammar Any of the forms of a noun, adjective, or pronoun that express the semantic relation of the word to other words in the sentence: the accusative case
More example sentences
  • They had at least as many noun cases to contend with as Latin speakers did, as well.
  • Only relatively recently did grammarians begin a debate over noun cases in English.
  • Do common cases become conventionalized as new senses for the words involved?
inflection, form, ending;
semantic relationship



as the case may be

According to the circumstances (used when referring to two or more alternatives): the authorities will decide if they are satisfied or not satisfied, as the case may be
More example sentences
  • Each has developed her own way of dealing, or not, as the case may be, with the past.
  • No one is so relentlessly partisan as to always be able to defend the left or the right, as the case may be.
  • But for the most part, he is relying on his ability to see the possibilities for both players and to capitalize on them or thwart them as the case may be.

be the case

Be so.
Example sentences
  • If that were the case, it might fairly be said that anyone who didn't do it would have only himself or herself to blame.
  • For if this were the case, there would be no such thing as profit.
  • Imitation, they say, is the greatest form of flattery and if this were the case then the two composers would be delighted.

case by case

Considering or dealing with each instance separately, taking into account its individual circumstances and features: applications would be considered on a case-by-case basis these situations are resolved case by case
More example sentences
  • Questions of impact are beyond the scope of this report and would need careful, case-by-case analysis to evaluate.
  • This case-by-case decision-making isn't good for anyone.
  • The case-by-case review seems destined to confuse as much as enlighten.

in any case

Whatever happens or may have happened: perhaps you’ll let me know tomorrow—in any case I’ll talk to you then
More example sentences
  • If it's a decision you'd make under those circumstances, it's one you should make in any case.
  • Most high-level leaders would have come to the site on that day in any case.
  • So, one way or another, we'd be fixing to move about now in any case.
4.1Moreover: he wasn’t allowed out yet, and in any case he wasn’t well enough
More example sentences
  • I cannot afford to have it towed, and in any case, I do not yet know where to have it towed to.
  • He was temperamentally unsuited, in any case, to repertory theatre.
  • I am warned that she is tired; hip operations have, in any case, made her sedentary.

(just) in case

1As a provision against something happening or being true: we put on thick jumpers, in case it was cold
More example sentences
  • I am chuffed to bits about what is happening but still nervous in case anything goes wrong.
  • He did not want to be photographed in case it should happen again.
  • I wanted the police to know what was taking place in case something happened to us.
2If it is true that: in case you haven’t figured it out, let me explain
More example sentences
  • Oh, and in case you're interested, the audience did stand for the Hallelujah chorus.
  • Word has it they're making a film version of the piece, so keep an eye out in case you missed it.
  • I had covered it in one of my first columns so in case you missed it, here goes again.

in case of

In the event of (a particular situation): instructions about what to do in case of fire
More example sentences
  • He had taken it in case of this kind of situation but he hoped he would never have to use it.
  • Kennedy and Mackenzie rushed to them, eyes on the hillside in case of further attack.
  • We have to have a emergency exit sign over the door in case of fire.

in no case

Under no circumstances: in no case is a specific funding target set
More example sentences
  • Though we will not discuss the circumstances of this matter in no case should a customer interfere with flight attendants in the discharge of their duties.
  • We should refer to participants in Special Olympics as athletes and in no case should the word appear in quotation marks.
  • One should recognize that the allegiance required is to the Constitution, not to an individual; in no case should this professional allegiance be confused with blindly following the orders of superiors.

in that case

If that is or will be the situation: ‘I’m free this evening.’ ‘In that case, why not have dinner with me?’
More example sentences
  • Wouldn't marriage guidance be better in that case than searing honesty?
  • Even your subjects, in that case, will be people who are similar to residents of Hong Kong.
  • So we see this enormous and aggressive response from the government in that case.

it's a case of ——

Used to introduce a summary of a particular situation, especially one that is unavoidable under the circumstances: it’s not a case of wanting to return to work but having to
More example sentences
  • There's nothing between the top six or seven teams in the competition so it's a case of who plays well on the day - and we proved we can do that.
  • I think, given the circumstances of our lives and that I have been a single mother since she was two, it's a case of so far, so good.
  • Several retailers have attempted to adopt the technology earlier, but it's a case of once bitten twice shy.

on (or off) someone's case

informal Continually (or no longer) criticizing or harassing someone: teachers, you know, get on your case
More example sentences
  • He took a while to win his first tournament and, after a lot of second places, the critics were on his case, implying he was a disappointment.
  • I would like to take the time to thank two people who kept getting on my case to continue this story when I had just about given up from lack of motivation.
  • So, don't get on my case for enjoying my lifestyle, and I won't criticize you on your reading material.

on the case

Actively engaged in an official investigation: officers on the case are unable to find a motive
More example sentences
  • There's a frantic scramble to the crime scene at Buckinghamshire CID, and over 65 policemen are on the case of a missing train engine.
  • The opening episode finds the pair on the case of a lawyer friend found dead after he represents a hacker who's allegedly spilled sensitive government secrets.
  • Glad to know the police are on the case, of everyone doing anything they don't like, legal or otherwise.
11.1In the process of dealing with a particular situation or task: the city council’s pest control team are on the case
More example sentences
  • Luckily, her aunt Joan is on the case to remind her of the important things in life.
  • Now, the full, harrowing story is seeing the light of day for the first time since the press was on the case back in the 90s.
  • If you've ever wondered how big sneeze droplets can get, science is currently on the case.


Middle English: from Old French cas, from Latin casus 'fall', related to cadere 'to fall'; in sense 4 directly from Latin, translating Greek ptōsis, literally 'fall'.

  • Case ‘an instance’ is something that happens or befalls, coming via French from Latin casus ‘a fall’, also the source of casual (Late Middle English). The case meaning ‘container’ is from Old French casse, the modern forms of which is caisse ‘trunk, chest’, based on Latin capsa, related to capere ‘to hold’ ( see capable). Latin capsa is also the base of late Middle English capsule, a general term at first for ‘a small container’, and cash (late 16th century) originally meaning ‘money-box’. The same base gave rise to late Middle English casement, which was first recorded as an architectural term for a hollow moulding.

Words that rhyme with case

abase, ace, apace, backspace, base, bass, brace, chase, dace, efface, embrace, encase, enchase, enlace, face, grace, interlace, interspace, in-your-face, lace, mace, misplace, outface, outpace, pace, place, plaice, race, space, Thrace, trace, upper case
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There are 2 main definitions of case in English:

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case 2

Pronunciation: /keɪs/


1A container designed to hold or protect something: a silver cigarette case
More example sentences
  • Many English longcase clocks had cases designed in the style of the period in which they were made.
  • I explained to her that the case held a CD-R containing files for work that I wanted to take home and work on overnight.
  • Among the sofas I encounter a perspex case containing a sleek-looking chair.
1.1The outer protective covering of a natural or manufactured object: a seed case
More example sentences
  • I turned and, attempting to be helpful, picked up a bit of keyboard that had lost its outer case.
  • Soon the seeds in the inflated seed cases of the yellow rattle will be hard and rattle at a brush.
  • When lost to view all you will hear are cones tumbling from branch to branch as seed cases spiral in the sun.
1.2An item of luggage; a suitcase.
Example sentences
  • The thieves also stole luggage cases from the house, which it is suspected they used to carry out the hoard of stolen items.
  • Couples are being told to separate their luggage into different cases to share the weight.
  • Passengers were crammed inside, and roof-racks piled high with cases, luggage and sacks of maize.
suitcase, bag, travelling bag, travel bag, valise, grip, holdall, portmanteau;
piece of luggage, item of baggage;
trunk, chest;
(casesluggage, baggage
1.3A box containing twelve bottles of wine or other drink, sold as a unit: a case of champagne
More example sentences
  • Beer and milk may be sold in crates but, contrary to popular usage, wine is sold in cases.
  • At Tesco in Oldham, she was sold a case of 12 bottles of Stella lager.
  • A case of beer, a case of wine, and six bottles of Wild Turkey were disposed of in merciless fashion.
crate, box, pack, bin, coffer, casket, chest, basket, hamper
2Each of the two forms, capital or minuscule, in which a letter of the alphabet may be written or printed. See also upper case, lower case.
From the use in printing to mean 'partitioned container for loose metal type'
Example sentences
  • In a few cases, mixed-case lettering has worked.
  • Numbers were written in Arabic numerals, in small case Roman numerals, or spelled out using Ordinals in preference to Cardinals.
  • Make sure that your file names are all in small case letters.


[with object]
1Surround in a material or substance: the towers are of steel cased in granite
More example sentences
  • The capacitor is then cased in a suitable synthetic resin.
  • The watches are cased in solid titanium and crystal hard glass for increased protection.
  • The team built 30 homes by using thick bamboo as a frame and then casing it with woven bamboo covered with mortar.
1.1Enclose in a protective container: (as adjective cased) a cased pair of pistols
More example sentences
  • He brought his competition pistol with him, but kept it cased, and just sat and watched as the others shot.
  • As I looked at the cover featuring a cased set of a pair of Great Western six-guns, not even in my wildest imagination could I ever conjure up a vision of someday not only handling but actually shooting these very same sixguns.
  • The guns are cased in their original brass cornered oak and leather case.
2 informal Reconnoitre (a place) before carrying out a robbery: I was casing the joint
More example sentences
  • I'd been casing this neglected place for weeks.
  • If you see a guy who looks like a burglar casing the joint - that will be me!
  • This individual was casing the area for a burglary that took place on the 26th.
reconnoitre, inspect, investigate, examine, scrutinize, survey, scout, explore, make an observation of, take stock of
informal recce, make a recce of, check out


Late Middle English: from Old French casse, chasse (modern caisse 'trunk, chest', châsse 'reliquary, frame'), from Latin capsa, related to capere 'to hold'.

  • Case ‘an instance’ is something that happens or befalls, coming via French from Latin casus ‘a fall’, also the source of casual (Late Middle English). The case meaning ‘container’ is from Old French casse, the modern forms of which is caisse ‘trunk, chest’, based on Latin capsa, related to capere ‘to hold’ ( see capable). Latin capsa is also the base of late Middle English capsule, a general term at first for ‘a small container’, and cash (late 16th century) originally meaning ‘money-box’. The same base gave rise to late Middle English casement, which was first recorded as an architectural term for a hollow moulding.

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