Definition of casualty in English:



  • 1A person killed or injured in a war or accident:

    ‘the shelling caused thousands of civilian casualties’
    • ‘But casualties involving goods vehicles totalled 97 last year - the highest casualty figure recorded in the Bradford district.’
    • ‘We've arrived here and the casualty figures have risen enormously.’
    • ‘World War I saw a civilian casualty rate of about 15 per cent (of total casualties).’
    • ‘Road casualty figures just released, show that overall, road deaths are the lowest they have ever been since records began in 1926.’
    • ‘The final death and casualty figures for this catastrophe will never be certain, and are so large as to be difficult to comprehend anyway.’
    • ‘Police said the casualty figures would have been much higher if they had not acted on the phone warning.’
    • ‘Road casualty figures for 2003 show that serious accidents fell by 15 to 82 compared to the previous year.’
    • ‘Regardless of this, the casualty figures for the Black Death were massive.’
    • ‘What are our total casualty figures and how many more casualties are we willing to endure?’
    • ‘Swindon's roads have never been safer according to the latest casualty figures.’
    • ‘And as we get more and faster trains on to the rails we can expect more deaths, so the casualty figures coldly used in cost benefit studies are all going to be out of date anyway.’
    • ‘Treating seriously injured casualties in extreme cold weather conditions is very difficult.’
    • ‘Two of the casualties became badly trapped and fire fighters had to use special cutting equipment to free the injured.’
    • ‘Another complicating factor is whether or not psychiatric cases are included in the casualty figures.’
    • ‘Police resorted to firing and one of the casualties was killed in police firing. 15 persons have been arrested.’
    • ‘The difficulty in tracking casualties is that the injured, wounded, and sick may be treated in any number of facilities.’
    • ‘In reality these civilians are no less casualties of war than if they were killed on the day the bombing began.’
    • ‘Center court was now a mass casualty scene, with injured personnel streaming out of Corridors 3 and 4 and wounded lying everywhere.’
    • ‘You had heard the news, you heard the casualty figures, and now you saw the trauma that the people went through.’
    • ‘Then the news started pouring in: four bombed trains, dozens of casualties, hundreds of injured.’
    victim, fatality, mortality
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    1. 1.1 A person or thing badly affected by an event or situation:
      ‘the building industry has been one of the casualties of the recession’
      • ‘Educated at Westminster and Oriel College, Oxford, he was an early casualty of the Oxford movement.’
      • ‘But another early casualty is conscience, routinely smothered in the national media echo chamber.’
      • ‘The first casualty of this double taxation was luxury glass, the city's traditional export.’
      • ‘The egg was an early casualty of the cholesterol war.’
      • ‘A big, bald-headed dude was passed out on the bunk above, an early casualty of beer and Valium.’
      • ‘It's sad, but current events and an awareness of them has been a casualty of my current lifestyle.’
      • ‘Faculty travel budgets and money for new faculty appointments are often early casualties.’
      • ‘My voice was an early casualty in the Change, all I could manage was a watery gurgle.’
      • ‘A prize portfolio could mean a head start in the race, but those overlooked or given poisoned chalices would be early casualties.’
      • ‘But the dream of a new generation of nuclear power may prove to be the real casualty of last week's events.’
      • ‘She was an early casualty of what is now being seen as a wasted generation.’
      • ‘Hopefully this cocoon of self-deception will be among the early casualties of the campaign.’
      • ‘For Einstein and children like him, confidence is an early casualty.’
      • ‘In anxious times, the free exchange of ideas is an early casualty.’
      • ‘The first casualties of this disastrous policy have been Asian voters, particularly women.’
      • ‘The first casualty of a disaster is always communication.’
      • ‘Civil liberties are always early and intended casualties of wars - both actual or metaphoric.’
      • ‘The date and location of the forum were a poignant reminder to many of those present of the impact of foot and mouth: the Great Yorkshire Show was the biggest event to fall casualty to the disease.’
      • ‘Major charities wanted to know how children, often the worst casualties of poverty, saw their own situations.’
      victim, sufferer, loser, loss
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    2. 1.2British The casualty department of a hospital:
      ‘he went to casualty to have a cut stitched’
      • ‘I got another insight into how hard nurses work from witnessing the transfer of a patient from casualty to a hospital in Dublin.’
      • ‘He was admitted to casualty in the Mater hospital but released shortly afterwards.’
      • ‘The crackdown on long waits has been dogged by allegations that ambulance staff are deliberately delaying taking patients into casualty until the hospital is ready for them.’
      • ‘John thought it was just a particularly bad headache, but when he went to work the next morning his colleagues sent him straight to casualty at Royal Oldham Hospital.’
      • ‘She was taken by ambulance to casualty at Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, after she lost consciousness at home at about 7pm.’
      • ‘In the second case, a music teacher had to go to casualty in two separate hospitals on Christmas Day and Boxing Day 1993 after developing problems with his dressing.’
      • ‘The police and hospital link-up is thought to be the first in the country, and will see cameras in casualty and the hospital's car park wired to the police station.’
      • ‘In one case, a patient was sent away from casualty, complaining of stomach pain, without a proper examination and told to see his GP if the symptoms persisted.’
      • ‘She was treated in casualty and she returned home.’
    3. 1.3 (chiefly in insurance) an accident or disaster:
      ‘the Insurers acquire all the Policyholder's rights in respect of the casualty which caused the loss’
      • ‘For wool to get wet in the rain is a casualty, though not a grave one; it is not a thing intended but is accidental; it is something which injures the wool from without; it does not develop from within.’
      • ‘Examples are: health problems, unemployment, damage to the home due to a casualty or disaster, and other reasons.’
      • ‘That is this case because the obligation to cover arose at the time of the casualty and it is that which under the approach in Albion gives rise to the double insurance situation.’
      • ‘In the present case the retainer is said to be for the purpose of investigating and advising on the casualty.’
      • ‘The centre of gravity was so close to the tipping line that a minor force would cause the casualty.’
      • ‘The term ‘perils of the sea’ refers only to fortuitous accidents or casualties of the seas.’
      • ‘Where a policy provides cover against one of two or more concurrent causes of a casualty, a claim will lie under the policy provided that there is no relevant exclusion.’
      • ‘Had the glass been in place, the casualty would not have occurred.’
      • ‘It is hardly surprising in those circumstances that the House of Lords held that the shipowning company could not say that the casualty had occurred without its actual fault and privity.’
      • ‘Thus if the second casualty is due to an excepted peril, the rule of merger which applied in the case of an unrepaired partial loss to defeat the claim has no application.’


Late Middle English (in the sense ‘chance, a chance occurrence’): from medieval Latin casualitas, from casualis (see casual), on the pattern of words such as penalty.