Just in Case – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Would you like to tell someone that all things have been considered and that you are doing (or saying) something as an extra precaution? The phrase 'just in case' can be used to say this to someone, and it's a common English phrase that doesn't always translate well directly into other languages. This post looks at the meaning, origin and use of this saying.


The phrase 'just in case' is a common English figurative saying that says all things have been considered and something is being done (or said) just as an extra precaution.

The phrase implies that preparation is better if something should happen.

The context of 'just in case [what]' is usually apparent from the rest of what is being said, or is already clear from the context of the discussion.            

Something is done 'just in case' to prevent the event that is being implied by the rest of the context.

For example, 'pack this umbrella just in case it rains' would present one example valid use of the phrase as a contextual sentence.

For valid use of the phrase, a counterpoint to just in case has to be implied or said.

The phrase is generally not used as 'just in cases' as it would be incorrect use of the term.

Someone can also use the phrase 'not just in case' to imply that something is not being done or said unnecessarily, but with purpose or meaning.

The phrase can be used for humorous effect, and is sometimes shown as accompanying visual humor (e.g. someone saying 'just in case' while grabbing something they will obviously not need or use).

Example Usage

“Remember to pack your condoms when you go out to the party. You know, just in case you meet someone and they don't happen to have any.”

“Just in case you have to pay the bill at the work function, remember to take your wallet and three credit cards.”

“The weather looks terrible. Pack this umbrella just in case it rains.”

“I still check under my bed for monsters. I know they're not real, but I still do it just in case they are.”


According to most online etymology resources, the phrase 'just in case' is difficult to track down to its exact first use and origin.

The phrase 'just in case' was in common use throughout English media and fiction writing throughout the 1800s, and use of the saying would continue to be popular throughout the 1900s.

Use of the saying 'just in case' would become popular again thanks to social media in the 1990s, and became a modern pop culture reference through its use in film and series.

The phrase was added to Urban Dictionary in 2011, even though much earlier use of the phrase is apparent.

Several other phrases derived from the saying 'just in case' are listed on Urban Dictionary as related terms, including the common mishearing 'Justin Case' used for humorous effect, and the phrase 'just in case friend' that is the same as saying 'fairweather friend'.

Phrases Similar to Just in Case

  • For a rainy day

Phrases Opposite to Just in Case

  • N/a

What is the Correct Saying?

  • [do/take this] just in case

Ways People May Say Just in Case Incorrectly

There are several ways in which someone can use the phrase 'just in case' in the wrong way, or misunderstand its meaning.

A common mishearing of the phrase is given as 'Justin Case', which is often delibrately used for comedic effect.

Correct use of the phrase 'just in case' has to make contextual sense.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Just in Case

The correct way to use the phrase 'just in case' is to use it as a phrase that suggests something is done as a precaution to something else.

The counterpoint is sometimes said outright, but can also be implied by the context of what has already been said.

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