Etymology
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case-work (n.)

"social work carried out by the study of individuals," 1896, from case (n.1) in the clinical sense + work (n.). Related: Case-worker (1909).

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case-knife (n.)

"knife carried in a sheath," 1704, from case (n.2) + knife (n.).

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letter-man (n.)

of college athletes, 1913, from letter (n.1) in the sports sense + man (n.).

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letter-perfect (adj.)

1833, in reference to exact memorization, from letter (n.1) + perfect (adj.).

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basket case (n.)

1919, American English, originally a reference to rumors of quadriplegics as a result of catastrophic wounds suffered in World War I (the U.S. military authorities vehemently denied there were any such in its hospitals), from basket (n.) + case (n.2). Probably literal, i.e., stuck in a basket, but basket had colloquial connotations of poverty (begging) and helplessness long before this. The figurative sense of "person emotionally unable to cope" is from 1921.

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smear-case (n.)

1829, semi-translation of German Schmier-käse; see smear (v.) + cheese (n.).

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letter-head (n.)

also letterhead, "sheet of paper with a printed or engraved logo or address," 1868, short for letterheading (1867); from letter (n.1) + heading (n.) in the printing sense. So called because it was printed at the "head" of the sheet of paper.

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black-letter (n., adj.)

name for old-style "Gothic" fonts, 1640s, from black (adj.); so called at the time to distinguish heavy printers' types from the lighter ones coming into use, which are the dominant modern forms. A style of black letter was preserved in German into 20c.

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