case

{{11}}case (n.1) "state of affairs," early 13c., from O.Fr. cas "an event, happening, situation, quarrel, trial," from L. casus "a chance, occasion, opportunity; accident, mishap," lit. "a falling," from cas-, pp. stem of cadere "to fall, sink, settle down, decline, perish" (used widely: of the setting of heavenly bodies, the fall of Troy, suicides), from PIE root *kad- "to lay out, fall or make fall, yield, break up" (Cf. Skt. sad- "to fall down," Armenian chacnum "to fall, become low," perhaps also M.Ir. casar "hail, lightning"). The notion being "that which falls" as "that which happens" (Cf. BEFALL (Cf. befall)). Given widespread extended and transferred senses in English in law, medicine, etc.; the grammatical sense was in Latin. In case "in the event" is recorded from mid-14c. Case history is from 1912, originally medical; case study is from 1933, originally legal.
{{12}}case (n.2) "receptacle," c.1300, from O.N.Fr. casse (O.Fr. chasse "case, reliquary," Mod.Fr. chásse), from L. capsa "box" (especially for books), from capere "to take, hold" (see CAPABLE (Cf. capable)). Artillery sense is from 1660s, from case-shot "small projectiles put in cases" (1620s). Its application in the printing trade (first recorded 1580s) to the two trays where compositors keep their types in separate compartments for easy access led to upper-case letter for a capital (1862) and lower-case for small letters.
"The cases, or receptacles, for the type, which are always in pairs, and termed the 'upper' and the 'lower,' are formed of two oblong wooden frames, divided into compartments or boxes of different dimensions, the upper case containing ninety-eight and the lower fifty-four. In the upper case are placed the capital, small capital, and accented letters, also figures, signs for reference to notes &c.; in the lower case the ordinary running letter, points for punctuation, spaces for separating the words, and quadrats for filling up the short lines." ["The Literary Gazette," Jan. 29, 1859]
{{12}}case (v.) "enclose in a case," 1570s, from CASE (Cf. case) (n.2). Related: Cased; casing. Meaning "examine, inspect" (usually prior to robbing) is from 1915, American English slang, perhaps from the notion of giving a place a look on all sides (Cf. technical case (v.) "cover the outside of a building with a different material," 1707).

Etymology dictionary. 2014.

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