basket case(redirected from basket cases)
Also found in: Dictionary, Medical.
1. Someone who is viewed as emotionally unstable and unable to function in normal situations. Sarah was so nervous on her first day of high school that she burst into tears after walking into the wrong classroom. Her classmates looked at her like she was a complete basket case.
2. A country, business, or other entity that is facing economic strife. If the unemployment rate doesn't decrease soon, the country is going to become a financial basket case.
Fig. a person who is a nervous wreck. (Formerly referred to a person who is physically disabled in all four limbs because of paralysis or amputation.) After that all-day meeting, I was practically a basket case. My weeks of worry were so intense that I was a real basket case afterwards.
A person or thing too impaired to function. For example, The stress of moving twice in one year left her a basket case, or The republics of the former Soviet Union are economic basket cases. Originating in World War I for a soldier who had lost all four limbs in combat and consequently had to be carried in a litter ("basket"), this term was then transferred to an emotionally or mentally unstable person and later to anything that failed to function. [Slang; second half of 1900s]
n. a person who is a nervous wreck. (Formerly referred to a person who is totally physically disabled.) After that meeting, I was practically a basket case.