ca·su·al·ty | \ˈka-zhəl-tē, ˈkazh-wəl-, ˈka-zhə-wəl-\
plural casualties

Definition of casualty 

1a : a military person lost through death, wounds, injury, sickness, internment, or capture or through being missing in action The army sustained heavy casualties.

b : a person or thing injured, lost, or destroyed : victim the ex-senator was a casualty of the last election

2 : serious or fatal accident : disaster losses from fire, storm, or other casualty— J. S. Seidman

3 archaic : chance, fortune losses that befall them by mere casualty— Sir Walter Raleigh

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for casualty


accident, mischance, mishap

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of casualty in a Sentence

a low number of casualties the real casualties in the war against drugs are millions of innocent children

Recent Examples on the Web

The only casualty outside the Padres’ 17th loss in their last 23 games: Perdomo’s resume. Jeff Sanders,, "Again, Dodgers beat up on Padres' Luis Perdomo," 9 July 2018 Civilian casualties, despite a recent temporary ceasefire, continue at record levels. Tracy Wilkinson,, "Pompeo makes surprise stop in Afghanistan and says Trump's policy there is working," 9 July 2018 For the moment though, there are few signs that president Trump has any ambivalence about pressing ahead with a worldwide trade war, even in the face of high (economic) casualties. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "On Eve of Trade War, China Warns That Trump’s Tariffs Will Backfire," 5 July 2018 But though the five were the most obvious casualties, those attending the vigil were careful to acknowledge that the people who survived the attack also suffered perhaps irreparable damage. Mary Carole Mccauley,, "Mourners gather at vigil for victims of Capital Gazette shooting," 30 June 2018 Those losses pushed net income at private U.S. property-casualty insurers down to $36.1 billion, compared with $42.9 billion in 2016, according to PCI and ISO. Leslie Scism, WSJ, "Even After Last Year’s Terrible Hurricanes, Insurers Are in Solid Shape," 30 June 2018 The sinkings of the Norness and the Coimbra, a day apart and with 36 casualties, made for front-page headlines. Richard Goldstein,, "Reinhard Hardegen, 105, who led U-boats to US shore," 23 June 2018 The battle occurred over August 28-30 and claimed an estimated 22,000 casualties, nearly 14,000 on the Union side and more than 8,000 on the Confederate side. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Grim look at Civil War surgery unearthed by new pit of limbs, bodies," 21 June 2018 Hanneman — who wrote several of the band’s most important songs — was a rock ’n’ roll casualty, claimed by liver failure from cirrhosis. Andrew Dansby, Houston Chronicle, "One more storm of blood from Slayer, on the metals band’s final tour," 13 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'casualty.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of casualty

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for casualty

see casual entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about casualty

Statistics for casualty

Last Updated

19 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for casualty

The first known use of casualty was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for casualty



English Language Learners Definition of casualty

: a person who is hurt or killed during an accident, war, etc.

: a person or thing that is harmed, lost, or destroyed


ca·su·al·ty | \ˈka-zhəl-tē \
plural casualties

Kids Definition of casualty

1 : a person who is hurt or killed in a war, disaster, or accident

2 : a person or thing injured, lost, or destroyed The old tree was a casualty of the storm.


ca·su·al·ty | \ˈkazh-əl-tē, ˈkazh-(ə-)wəl- \
plural casualties

Medical Definition of casualty 

1 : a serious or fatal accident

2 : a military person lost through death, wounds, injury, sickness, internment, or capture or through being missing in action

3a : injury or death from accident

b : one injured or killed (as by accident)

Keep scrolling for more


ca·su·al·ty | \ˈka-zhəl-tē, ˈka-zhə-wəl- \
plural casualties

Legal Definition of casualty 

1 : an unfortunate occurrence especially : a serious and often disastrous accident conversion of property…arising from fire, storm, shipwreck, or other casualty Internal Revenue Code

2 : something lost, stolen, damaged, or destroyed — see also casualty gain at gain, casualty loss at loss

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on casualty

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for casualty

Spanish Central: Translation of casualty

Nglish: Translation of casualty for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of casualty for Arabic Speakers

Comments on casualty

What made you want to look up casualty? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to reject or criticize sharply

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!