Basket case


      • someone who is emotionally or mentally unstable
        Describing someone who is struggling with emotional or mental issues, often unable to function or cope with daily life

      • something that is beyond repair or useless
        Referring to an object or situation that is in a state of complete disarray or dysfunction, beyond any hope of being fixed or improved

      • a group or organization that is struggling or failing
        Describing a group or organization that is facing significant challenges or difficulties, often on the brink of collapse or failure

    Examples of Basket case

    • The deadline for the project was only three days away, and the team had barely made any progress. The client was getting anxious, and the team members were cramming day and night to complete their tasks. Mark, the project manager, was particularly worried as he had taken full responsibility for the project's success. He knew that if they failed to deliver on time, it would not only affect the client's business but also tarnish their reputation in the industry. Mark found himself in a crucial meeting with the client the next day, and he had to convince them that everything was under control. However, just as he was about to leave for the meeting, he received a call from Sarah, the graphic designer. She sounded desperate and panicked as she told him that she had lost all her files and couldn't find them anywhere. Mark was beside himself as he realized that they had a basket case on their hands.

      The expression "basket case" refers to a situation or person that is completely helpless, disorganized, and unable to function effectively. In this instance, Sarah's inability to locate her files had caused a major setback in the project, and it left Mark and the team in a state of chaos and uncertainty. The term highlights the seriousness and urgency of the situation, as well as the need for immediate action to rectify it.

    • The marketing campaign for the new product had been in the works for months, and everyone was eager to see its success. However, the day before the launch, the marketing team received news that the main supplier had gone bankrupt. This left them scrambling to find alternative sources and suppliers, and they had to work overtime to ensure that the product would still be available for the launch. In the midst of the chaos, Emily, the marketing manager, was starting to crack under the pressure. She spent countless sleepless nights poring over financial reports and correspondence with potential suppliers. Her colleagues noticed that she had become paranoid and irrational, and they started to whisper that she was a basket case.

      The use of "basket case" in this context refers to a person who is completely overwhelmed and unable to cope with the situation. Emily's obsession with the project and her inability to maintain a cool head under pressure had led her to become a basket case. The term highlights the mental and emotional toll of high-pressure situations and the need for individuals to find a healthy balance between dedication and stress management.

    • Tom had been given a factory to manage, but he had no experience in manufacturing or logistics. Within a few weeks, the factory was in complete disarray, with machines breaking down and products piling up unsold. The previous manager had left a mess, and Tom found himself in the middle of a complicated web of suppliers, distributors, and customers. He struggled to keep up with the demands of the job and found himself staying up late into the night trying to fix the problems that had arisen during the day. His colleagues started to avoid him, and some even called him a basket case.

      The use of "basket case" here highlights the incompetence of the person in charge and the chaos that they have caused. Tom's lack of experience and expertise had led to a complete breakdown in the factory's operations, and his inability to manage the situation had left everyone else feeling overwhelmed and disheartened. The term draws attention to the importance of competence and expertise in leadership roles, as well as the need for individuals to seek out guidance and training when they are in unfamiliar territory.

    • The studentunion president had been preparing for the annual charity drive for months. She had recruited a team of volunteers, secured sponsorships, and created a detailed plan for the event. However, on the day of the drive, torrential rains flooded the streets, and the city was in a state of chaos. The student union president found herself in the middle of a disaster, with volunteers unable to reach the event site, and sponsors withdrawing their support. The president broke down and cried, feeling completely overwhelmed and unable to cope with the situation. Her colleagues quickly took charge, but they could not help but notice that she had become a basket case.

      The use of "basket case" in this context highlights the emotional and mental toll of unexpected and unprecedented events. The president's breakdown speaks to the vulnerability of individuals when faced with extreme situations, and it serves as a reminder of the importance of resilience and adaptability. The term also underlines the need for individuals to have support systems in place, both emotional and practical, to help them navigate through crises.


    The idiom "basket case" is often used to describe someone or something that is in a state of complete chaos or dysfunction. It can refer to a person who is struggling with mental or emotional issues, an object or situation that is beyond repair, or a group or organization that is failing. In all cases, it conveys a sense of hopelessness and desperation.

    This idiom is often used in a negative or derogatory manner, implying that the person or thing being described is weak or useless. However, it can also be used in a sympathetic or empathetic way, acknowledging the struggles and difficulties that someone or something is facing.

    Origin of "Basket case"

    The origin of the idiom "basket case" is uncertain, but it is believed to have originated in the United States in the early 20th century. One theory suggests that it comes from a medical term used during World War I to describe soldiers who had lost all four of their limbs and had to be carried in a basket. Another theory suggests that it comes from the practice of creating baskets out of scraps and leftover materials, implying that something or someone is made up of various broken or discarded parts.

    Regardless of its origin, the idiom has become a common phrase in English, used to describe a wide range of situations and people. It has also been adapted into other languages, such as French ("cas désespéré") and Spanish ("caso perdido").