Meaning of CASE in English

I. case 1 S1 W1 /keɪs/ BrE AmE noun

[ Sense 1-5, 7-16: Date: 1200-1300 ; Language: Old French ; Origin: cas , from Latin casus 'fall, chance' , from cadere 'to fall' ]

[ Sense 6: Date: 1200-1300 ; Language: Old North French ; Origin: casse , from Latin capsa 'box, case' , from capere 'to take' ]

1 . EXAMPLE [countable] an example of a particular situation or of something happening

case of

There were 16 cases of damage to cars in the area.

in the case of something

The amount of fruit in fruit juices must be 6% in the case of berries and 10% in the case of other fruits.

in some/many/most etc cases

In many cases standards have improved.

Tom’s career is a case in point (=a clear example of something that you are discussing or explaining) .

a classic case (=typical example) of poor design

2 . SITUATION [countable usually singular] a situation that exists, especially as it affects a particular person or group

in sb’s case

Like the others, he produced a written explanation, but in Scott’s case this was a 30-page printed booklet.

Changing men’s and women’s traditional roles is not easy, but in our case it has been helpful.

it is the case (that)

It may be the case that the scheme will need more money.

We tend to think of these people as untrustworthy, but that is not the case.

in this case

In this case, several solutions could be tried.

in which case

He won’t want to eat it unless he’s really hungry, in which case he’ll eat almost anything.

3 . (just) in case

a) as a way of being safe from something that might happen or might be true:

Take an umbrella, in case it rains.

He had his camera ready, just in case he saw something that would make a good picture.

b) American English if:

In case I’m late, start without me.


In case is followed by the simple present, the simple past, or 'should':

Write it down in case you forget (NOT in case you will forget).

They locked themselves in their houses in case there was (NOT would be) more trouble.

Here’s a contact number, in case there should (NOT will/would) be a problem.

4 . in any case whatever happens or happened:

I don’t see why I couldn’t do it. In any case, I’m going to try.

He’s too young to come and in any case I want him to spend the time with Mom.

5 . in that case if that is the situation:

‘He didn’t want to talk to Sally.’ ‘In that case why did he agree to meet her?’

6 . REASON/ARGUMENT [countable usually singular] a set of reasons why something should happen or be done:

Let me research the facts before I put forward a case.

case for

A group of us met to make our case for more women in the cabinet.

There is a strong case (=very good set of reasons) for getting parents more involved in the school’s activities.

7 . LAW/CRIME [countable]

a) a question or problem that will be dealt with by a law court:

She is keen to avoid a court case.

The lawyers will only be paid if they win the case.

case against

Marshall has dropped the case against us.

b) all the reasons that one side in a legal argument can give against the other side:

The evidence does not support the prosecution’s case.

The court ruled that we had a case (=had enough evidence or good arguments) .

c) an event or set of events that need to be dealt with by the police in order to find out if a crime has been committed and who committed it

case of

a case of armed robbery

on the case

Around 50 police officers are on the case.

8 . BOX/CONTAINER [countable]

a) a large box or container in which things can be stored or moved:

a packing case

a case of wine

b) a special box used as a container for holding or protecting something:

a jewellery case

Jim put his violin back in its case.

c) British English a ↑ suitcase :

Polly carried her cases upstairs to the bedroom.

⇨ ↑ bookcase , ↑ briefcase , ↑ pillowcase

9 . it’s a case of something spoken used before describing a situation:

Everyone can learn, it’s just a case of practising.

It’s a case of too many people and not enough jobs.

10 . DISEASE [countable] an example of a disease or a person who has a disease

case of

There are thousands of new cases of AIDS in Africa every year.

11 . in case of something used to describe what you should do in a particular situation, especially on official notices:

In case of fire, break the glass.

12 . GRAMMAR [uncountable and countable] technical the way in which the form of a word changes, showing its relationship to other words in a sentence:

case endings

13 . be on sb’s case informal to be criticizing someone constantly:

Dad’s always on my case about something or other.

14 . be on the case spoken if someone says they are on the case, they know about a problem and are going to try to solve it

15 . get off my case spoken used to tell someone to stop criticizing you or complaining about you:

OK, OK, just get off my case!

16 . PERSON [countable] someone who is being dealt with by a doctor, a ↑ social worker , the police etc ⇨ BASKET-CASE , ↑ nutcase , ↑ lower case , ⇨ I rest my case at ↑ rest 2 (9), ⇨ ↑ upper case

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 7A)


▪ a court case

There was a lot of publicity surrounding the court case.

▪ a murder case

He had been a witness in a murder case.

▪ a libel case (=against someone who has written a bad statement about someone else)

damages awarded by juries in libel cases

▪ a criminal case

It was the longest and most expensive criminal case in US history.

▪ a civil case (=not a criminal case)

He is involved with civil cases, not criminal ones.

▪ a test case (=one that will establish a principle for the first time)

If the dispute goes to court it could be an important test case.

▪ a landmark case (=one that established a principle for the first time)

a landmark case about copyright protection for computer software

▪ a high-profile case (=one that gets a lot of attention)

a defense lawyer who has handled some high-profile cases

■ verbs

▪ bring a case (against somebody)

There was not enough evidence to bring a case against him.

▪ hear/try a case (=listen to the evidence before making a judgment)

The case will be heard by a federal judge.

▪ win/lose a case (=be successful or unsuccessful in proving someone guilty or not guilty)

Lomax was a brilliant lawyer who had never lost a case.

▪ settle a case (=end it finally)

He paid a $15,000 fine to settle the case.

▪ adjourn a case (=stop it for a short time)

The case was adjourned until next month for further reports.

▪ dismiss/throw out a case (=officially stop it from continuing)

The case was thrown out by New York state’s highest court.

▪ drop a case (=not continue with it)

The case was dropped because of a lack of evidence.

▪ a case comes/goes to court

When the case finally came to court, they were found not guilty.

▪ a case comes/goes to trial

By the time her case went to trial, her story had changed.

▪ a case comes before a judge/court

The case came before the federal courts.

II. case 2 BrE AmE verb [transitive]

1 . be cased in something to be completely surrounded by a material or substance:

The reactor will be cased in metal.

⇨ ↑ casing

2 . case the joint informal to look around a place that you intend to steal from in order to find out information

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.