In Case Of and In the Event Of
A reader asks if there’s a difference between these two phrases:
Is there any difference between “in case of” and “in the event of”? Some seem to think these two phrases are synonymous; others contend that “in case of” is used when you’re preparing for something, e.g. “Take an umbrella in case it rains,” while “in the event of” when anticipating an unplanned occurrence, like “In the event of fire, use the emergency exit.” What is your take on this?
The OED defines the conjunction “in case” as “in the event that; if it should happen that.”
On the Ngram Viewer, “in case of” is far more common than “in the event of” from 1800 to 1917, but then begins to plummet. In 2000, “in case of” is only slightly ahead of “in the event of” in the English database.
A Google search also indicates that “in case of” is more common:
in case of (290,000,000 results)
in the event of (95,400,000 results)
As for “anticipating an unplanned occurrence,” like a fire, a Google search indicates that the phrases occur about equally:
in the event of emergency: 28,400,000 results
in case of emergency: 29,600,000 results
in case of fire: 22,700,000 results
in the event of fire: 19,600,000 results
It seems clear that the two phrases are synonymous.
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