The expression basket case is used to refer to a person who is incapable of doing something or thinking clearly because he or she is too nervous. Note that it is an insulting word. The term basket case can also be used to refer to a country or organization that faces serious financial problems.
- As soon as she heard the news, she became a psychological basket case.
- He is a basket case. He can’t handle stress.
- She was a total basket case on her wedding day.
- It seems that the organization is a financial basket case. It has started downsizing.
The word basket case was one of those words that became popular after the First World War. During those times it was used to refer to soldiers whose all four limbs had been amputated. Because they couldn’t move on their own they had to be carried around in baskets.