best/worst-case scenario

best/worst-case scenario

The best or worst possible outcome for a situation. These clichés use scenario in the sense of an imagined situation or sequence of events, a usage that has become common since about 1960. For example, “In the best-case scenario, Dad set off the burglar alarm accidentally,” or “It isn’t just that the price is higher, but none are left even at that price—that’s the worst-case scenario.” An amusing how-to manual by David Borgenicht and Joshua Piven, The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook (1999), probes improbable mishaps and emergencies, such as how to escape quicksand or how to land a pilotless airplane. The term appeared in Newsweek, on June 23, 2010, “The Oil Spill’s Worst-Case Scenario? Efforts to Stop the Flow May Have Set the Stage for an Even Bigger Catastrophe.” The antonym, best-case scenario, meaning the best possible outcome, is also a cliché. The Statesman Journal (Oregon) had it on August 22, 2010: “Best-Case Scenario Still Means State Cuts” in the budget. See also if worst comes to worst.
See also: scenario