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make a federal case (out) of (something)
To exaggerate or build up the importance of something; to make a big deal out of something. The phrase is often used to complain that someone is exaggerating a problem or alleged wrongdoing. So I ate your leftovers. Geez, don't make a federal case out of it! I'm not trying to make a federal case out of it, but I know you stole my new sweater!
make a federal case out of somethingand make a big deal about something
to exaggerate the seriousness of something. Come on. It was nothing! Don't make a federal case out of it. I only stepped on your toe. Don't make a big deal about it.
make a federal case of
Also, make a big deal of. Give undue importance to an issue, as in I'll pay you back next week-you needn't make a federal case of it, or Jack is making a big deal of filling out his passport application. The first hyperbolic expression, almost always used in a negative context, alludes to taking a legal action before a high (federal) court. The second alludes to an important business transaction (see big deal, def. 1).
make a federal case out of somethingAMERICAN
If someone makes a federal case out of something, they treat it as if it is much worse or more serious than it really is. Note: In the first two expressions, a case is a matter that is being dealt with by a lawyer or doctor, rather than referring to a box or suitcase. I am not trying to make a federal case out of it, but with minor changes, you could achieve so much more.
Don’t make a federal case out of it!
sent. Don’t make such a fuss!; This isn’t as important as you are making it. So, I dropped a whole dozen eggs! I’ll clean it up. Don’t make a federal case out of it!
n. a U.S. bank note. I could use a few extra of those federal diplomas.
See also: federal
n. a federal prison. (see also jug.) Lefty is fresh and sweet—just out of the federal jug.
make a federal case out of something
tv. to exaggerate the importance of an error; to overdo something. Do you have to make a federal case out of everything?