I’m not a basket case

I’m a complete basket case.


This is the thought I kept going back to during my long run last weekend.

I kept thinking of myself as a complete basket case because I felt like a frazzled mess. Could the pain in my shin that had kept me from running for a week really just be a symptom of my anxiety? Could anxiety be making me slow?

What a basket case.

And then, because it was a long run and I had a lot of time to think, I started to wonder where the term “basket case” came from and what it meant.

I took a History of the English Language course in college. It was one of my favorite classes.

But I had never thought about the term “basket case” before. I guess I always had some vague notion that it had something to do with having a case of nerves, or something.

When I got home, I did some research.

Apparently, the term can be traced back to WWI, when, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary, it was used to reference quadriplegic soldiers. A few years later it took on the more current and figurative meaning, “person emotionally unable to cope.”

I am so grateful to have all of my limbs, and I will not be referring to myself (or anybody else) as a basket case in the future. It seems inappropriate and kind of makes me want to cringe.

I was surprised to see that my 1997 paperback edition of The Merriam Webster Dictionary makes no mention of the figurative definition. The entry simply reads: “1: a person who has all four limbs amputated¬† 2 : one that is totally incapacitated or inoperable”

Who knew?

Did you know where the term “basket case” came from?

Author: healthyincville

Nemophilist Trail runner Introvert Animal-loving vegetarian * My ideal city would be car-free. I love my cats.

3 thoughts on “I’m not a basket case”

  1. I had no idea that was where the phrase “basket case” came from. I will not be referring to anyone as a basket case anymore, either, though. How on earth did that term become commonplace when it originally referred to quadriplegic soldiers in WWI??

  2. I hate when your mind wanders to bad places on long runs! The things our brains think of when we are given too much time!

    That darn shin won’t give you a break eh! I’m sending you good recovery vibes!

    – Leah

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