From Latin casuālitas (compare casuality). Originally meaning “a chance event” (compare casual, as in “casual encounter”), it developed a negative meaning as “an unfortunate event”, especially the loss of a person.
casualty (plural casualties)
- (obsolete) Chance nature; randomness.
1621, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], The Anatomy of Melancholy, Oxford: Printed by Iohn Lichfield and Iames Short, for Henry Cripps, OCLC 216894069; The Anatomy of Melancholy, 2nd corrected and augmented edition, Oxford: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, 1624, OCLC 54573970, (please specify |partition=1, 2, or 3):, NYRB 2001, vol.1, p.327-8:
- The non-necessary [causes] follow; of which, saith Fuchsius, no art can be made, by reason of their uncertainty, casualty, and multitude […]
- Something that happens by chance, especially an unfortunate event; an accident, a disaster.
- A person suffering from injuries or who has been killed due to an accident or through an act of violence.
- (proscribed) Specifically, a person who has been killed (not only injured) due to an accident or through an act of violence; a fatality.
- (military) A person in military service who becomes unavailable for duty, for any reason (notably death, injury, illness, capture, or desertion).
- (Britain) The accident and emergency department of a hospital.
The term casualty is sometimes used to mean “a killed person”; in more careful use this is referred to as a fatality, and casualty instead means “killed or injured”.
(hospital's accident and emergency):
- emergency / emergency room / emergency department / emergency ward / E. R./E.R./ER
- casualty department / casualty ward
- accident and emergency / A&E