basket case

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See also: basketcase


Alternative forms[edit]


From basket + case.


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basket case (plural basket cases)

  1. (colloquial, now historical, offensive) Someone (especially a soldier) who has lost all four limbs. [from 20th c.]
    • 1919, Official Bulletin (U.S. Comm. Public Information), 28 March:
      The Surgeon General of the Army [] denies [] that there is any foundation for the stories that have been circulated [] of the existence of ‘basket cases’ in our hospitals.
    • 1973, Norman Mailer, Marilyn, Taschen, published 2022, page 73:
      Her mind, at its worst, is in ways analogous to a basket-case who seethes with desires to move but has no limbs.
  2. An institution or country in a bad condition or difficult situation (economically, financially or otherwise). [from 20th c.]
    This country is a financial basket case, a country so broke that it should be a perfect warning to lenders.
    Some countries are breadbaskets, others basket cases.
    • 2009, Selig S. Harrison, Korean Endgame: A Strategy for Reunification and U.S. Disengagement, Princeton University Press, →ISBN, page 48:
      The stereotypical image of North Korea as a hopeless economic basket case ignores the fact that there are extensive natural resources there.
    • 2018 December 21, Stuart Jeffries, “Germany’s Hidden Crisis by Oliver Nachtwey review – social decline in the heart of Europe”, in The Guardian[1]:
      The Germany described by this Frankfurt School professor is a basket case – post-growth, post-democratic, with the first fascists in the Bundestag since the Third Reich.
    • 2023 March 8, Howard Johnston, “Was Marples the real railway wrecker?”, in RAIL, number 978, page 51:
      But before that could happen, the large parts of the business that were a complete basket case had to be dealt with severely.
  3. (colloquial, potentially offensive) One made powerless or ineffective, as by nerves, panic, stress or exhaustion; someone considered mentally unstable. [from 20th c.]
    Synonym: emotional cripple
    She was a complete basket case the morning of her wedding.
    • 1985, John Hughes, The Breakfast Club (motion picture), spoken by Brian Johnson (Anthony Michael Hall):
      You see us as a brain, an athelete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal. Correct? That's the way we saw each other at seven o'clock this morning.
    • 2019 July 9, Toni Bentley, “What Do the Sex Lives of ‘Three Women’ Tell Us About Female Desire?”, in New York Times[2]:
      Taddeo’s sad, searing, sometimes unbearably painful tales of bad decisions, agonies and humiliations at the shrine of “love” show us that, in spite of 10 to 15 minutes here and there of truly hot sex, a woman “in love” is frequently a basket case.


See also[edit]