From casual, from Middle French casuel, from Late Latin cāsuālis (“happening by chance”), from Latin cāsus (“event”) (English case), from cadere (“to fall”). 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