Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

case - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

noun     case pronunciation in American English
Word Forms
  1. 1
    [countable] an example or instance of something
    case of:

    a serious case of nerves

    It was a case of love at first sight.

  2. 2
    [countable] [usually singular] a situation or set of conditions, especially one involving a particular person or thing
    as is the case:

    Often, as is the case for these families, there is no other source of support.

    be the case:

    This was the case in the past, but now life is different.

    if that’s the case:

    If that’s the case, I’m not surprised he was angry.

    I think we can make an exception in your case.

    in that case:

    “I don’t need it tonight.” “In that case, I’ll keep it until tomorrow.”

    in which case:

    They can still agree to our conditions, in which case the bombing will stop.

    it’s a case of:

    It really is a case of “no news is good news.”

    it is the case that:

    Isn’t it the case that they’re afraid of change?

  3. 3
    [countable] a legal matter that will be decided in a court
    case against:

    He was confident the case against him would be dropped.

    win/lose a case:

    He would do anything to win a case.

    1. a.
      a crime that the police are trying to solve

      At least a dozen officers are investigating the murder case.

    2. b.
      the evidence and arguments that one side can use against the other in a law court
      the case for the prosecution/the defense:

      The assistant district attorney informed the judge that he had completed the case for the prosecution.

      have a case (=have a chance of winning):

      The lawyers told me I didn’t have a case.

  4. 4
    [countable] a set of facts and arguments that you can state for or against something

    This horrible crime strengthens the case of those who want all guns to be licensed .

    case for/against:

    The case against lowering educational standards is overwhelming.

    make a case for something:

    Calvin makes a good case for this unpopular policy in his article.

    A case can be made for reducing taxes right now.

    state your case:

    She was being offered a chance to state her case.

  5. 5
    [countable] a situation or person to be dealt with, often by an official

    There have been several reports of cases of neglected and abused children.

  6. 6
    [countable] a container or cover for keeping or protecting something

    Have you seen my glasses’ case anywhere?

    Synonyms and related words
    1. a.
      a piece of furniture made of wood and glass in which objects are shown in a store or museum
  7. 7
    [countable/uncountable] linguistics a form of a noun, adjective, or pronoun in some languages that shows its relationship in grammar to other words in a sentence
  8. From our crowdsourced Open Dictionary
    the distinction between a letter written in upper-case (ABC), also called a capital letter, or lower-case (abc), also called a minuscule letter

    In typography, the case of the text is as important as typing in bold font or in italics.

    Submitted by Climentlepiment from France on 25/05/2015
  9. From our crowdsourced Open Dictionary
    set out the case for/against something to cite arguments in favour or against something

    The education minister set out the case for reforming the current system of education.

    Submitted by Boris Marchenko from Russian Federation on 27/07/2016
  • Facebook
  • Twitter


a lifestyle focussing on simple pleasures such as comfort and cosiness in the home, and spending time with friends and family

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


a form of location that involves the underwater detonation of a bomb which causes sound waves that are picked up by ships

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play