case (plural cases)

  1. An actual event, situation, or fact.
    For a change, in this case, he was telling the truth.
    It is not the case that every unfamiliar phrase is an idiom.
    In case of fire, break glass. [sign on fire extinguisher holder in public space]
  2. (now, rare) A given condition or state.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, III.10:
      Ne wist he how to turne, nor to what place: / Was never wretched man in such a wofull cace.
    • 1726, Nathan Bailey, ‎John Worlidge, Dictionarium Rusticum, Urbanicum & Botanicum
      Mares which are over-fat, hold with much difficulty; whereas those that are but in good case and plump, conceive with the greatest readiness and ease.
  3. A piece of work, specifically defined within a profession.
    It was one of the detective's easiest cases.  Social workers should work on a maximum of forty active cases.  The doctor told us of an interesting case he had treated that morning.
  4. (academia) An instance or event as a topic of study.
    The teaching consists of theory lessons and case studies.
  5. (legal) A legal proceeding, lawsuit.
  6. (grammar) A specific inflection of a word depending on its function in the sentence.
    The accusative case canonically indicates a direct object.  Latin has six cases, and remnants of a seventh.
    • Now, the Subject of either an indicative or a subjunctive Clause is always assigned Nominative case, as we see from:
      (16) (a)   I know [that they/*them/*their leave for Hawaii tomorrow]
      (16) (b)   I demand [that they/*them/*their leave for Hawaii tomorrow]
      By contrast, the Subject of an infinitive Clause is assigned Objective case, as we see from:
      (17)   I want [them/*they/*their to leave for Hawaii tomorrow]
      And the Subject of a gerund Clause is assigned either Objective or Genitive case: cf.
      (18)   I don't like the idea of [them/their/*they leaving for Hawaii tomorrow]
  7. (grammar, uncountable) Grammatical cases and their meanings taken either as a topic in general or within a specific language.
    Jane has been studying case in Caucasian languages.  Latin is a language that employs case.
  8. (medicine) An instance of a specific condition or set of symptoms.
    There were another five cases reported overnight.
  9. (programming) A section of code representing one of the actions of a conditional switch.

Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations
  • French: cas
  • Italian: caso
  • Portuguese: caso
  • Russian: падеж

case (cases, present participle casing; past and past participle cased)

  1. (obsolete) To propose hypothetical cases.
    • Casing upon the matter.


case (plural cases)

  1. A box that contains or can contain a number of identical items of manufacture.
  2. A box, sheath, or covering generally.
    a case for spectacles; the case of a watch
  3. A piece of luggage that can be used to transport an apparatus such as a sewing machine.
  4. An enclosing frame or casing.
    a door case; a window case
  5. A suitcase.
  6. A piece of furniture, constructed partially of transparent glass or plastic, within which items can be displayed.
  7. The outer covering or framework of a piece of apparatus such as a computer.
  8. (printing, historical) A shallow tray divided into compartments or "boxes" for holding type, traditionally arranged in sets of two, the "upper case" (containing capitals, small capitals, accented) and "lower case" (small letters, figures, punctuation marks, quadrats, and spaces).
  9. (typography, by extension) The nature of a piece of alphabetic type, whether a “capital” (upper case) or “small” (lower case) letter.
  10. (poker slang) Four of a kind.
  11. (US) A unit of liquid measure used to measure sales in the beverage industry, equivalent to 192 fluid ounces.
  12. (mining) A small fissure which admits water into the workings.
  13. A thin layer of harder metal on the surface of an object whose deeper metal is allowed to remain soft.
  14. A cardboard box that holds (usually 24) beer bottles or cans.
    Synonyms: carton
    a single case of Bud Light
Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations
  • Russian: набо́рная ка́сса
  • French: casse
  • German: Schriftkasten
  • Portuguese: caixa
  • Russian: наборный
  • Spanish: caja


case (not comparable)

  1. (poker slang) The last remaining card of a particular rank.
    He drew the case eight!
    • 2006, David Apostolico, Lessons from the Professional Poker Tour (page 21)
      If he did have a bigger ace, I still had at least six outs — the case ace, two nines, and three tens. I could also have more outs if he held anything less than A-K.


case (cases, present participle casing; past and past participle cased)

  1. (transitive) To place (an item or items of manufacture) into a box, as in preparation for shipment.
  2. (transitive) To cover or protect with, or as if with, a case; to enclose.
    • The man who, cased in steel, had passed whole days and nights in the saddle.
  3. (transitive, informal) To survey (a building or other location) surreptitiously, as in preparation for a robbery.
    • 1977, Michael Innes, The Gay Phoenix, ISBN 9780396074427, page 116 ↗:
      You are in the grounds of Brockholes Abbey, a house into which a great deal of valuable property has just been moved. And your job is to case the joint for a break in.
    • 2014, Amy Goodman, From COINTELPRO to Snowden, the FBI Burglars Speak Out After 43 Years of Silence (Part 2), Democracy Now!, January 8, 2014, 0:49 to 0:57 ↗:
      Bonnie worked as a daycare director. She helped case the FBI office by posing as a college student interested in becoming an FBI agent.
Translations Translations


  1. (computing, software) computer-aided software engineering.
  2. (manufacturing) coatings, adhesives, sealants and elastomers.



  1. (grammar) abstract feature of a noun phrase that determines its function in a sentence, such as a grammatical case and a position.
    • 1988, Frederick J. Newmeyer, Linguistic Theory: Foundations
      The basic principle governing case is:
      (20) The Case filter:
      A lexicalized NP must bear a Case feature in S-structure.
      Case’ with a capital C is here understood not as morphologically marked case, but as an abstract feature which will be present even in languages such as Swahili or Chinese which lack case marking on NPs (it is usually assumed however, that Case will be congruent with morphological case where the latter is present).
    • 1993, Anders Holmberg, Urpo Nikanne, Case and Other Functional Categories in Finnish Syntax
      When we have clitic doubling constructions (with both a full NP and a clitic), the NP needs a dummy Case marker in order to get Case, as its “normal” Case is absorbed by the clitic, otherwise it will be ruled out by the Case Filter. It must be stressed that ‘Case’ here is abstract Case (written with capital C), a licencing requirement making arguments visible for θ-marking, and not morphological case.
Proper noun
  1. Surname

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