I need to choose most intuitive, generic and neutral terms, so I am wondering if "case" and "choice" are best ones?

By "case" I mean something (good or bad) what may happen and user can't directly control it. E.g. transport delay, customer decision to buy.

"choice" is something which will happen only if user decides to go this way. E.g. pay for some service or not, go to bus station or call for taxi. (But if bus or taxi will come or not - it's case already, not choice, because user has no control here)

Context - generic planning application, so there are two categories of items listed in the plan.

P.S. I'll try to give more context how this terms are going to be used.

Imagine roadmap diagram with step by step plan of some project. This diagram is build of blocks, like

start -->
[choice] take a loan --> 
[case] bank gives a loan --> 
[choice] buy 100x teddy bears --> 
[case] nothing sold --> [choice] start bankrupting
[case] 50 sold --> [choice] make discounts
[case] 100 sold --> [choice] repeat

So these terms are not used as part of sentence. It's just categories of diagram items not really related to the exact content of each item.

I've chosen "case" because in progamming it's common to have multiple conditions block which looks like:

switch valueToTest {
  case 'A' -> do smth
  case 'B'-> do smth else

So in my case I have smth similar - item which describes one of possibilities. But I need it to be understandable for non-programmers also.

P.P.S Ima now thinking also about "occurrence", "occasion" and maybe "instance" as a candidates to replace "case", but not sure if it will be better.

And as "choice" alternative I can think about "option".

For choice user can ask him self "to be or not to be" And for case he will be wondering if it will happen or not.

  • Welcome! 1) Just so we know where you're coming from, please edit to show that you have looked both words up in a dictionary. These are valid meanings of both words, but it's not the primary meaning of "case," and I think for that one you might want a different word. 2) We need a lot more context. These are really requests for words, and for those, we ask that you provide a sample sentence showing how the word(s) would be used. Nov 10, 2021 at 14:17
  • Hi Andy, thank you for comment. My explanations of what does each term mean is in fact sample sentences. Similar explanations used in my application as hints, when user is asked to choose between choice and case.
    – Yuri Gor
    Nov 10, 2021 at 15:12
  • Thanks for responding! I'm afraid, though, there's still too little to go on for me, at least, to get an idea of how the terms are being used. "Transport delay" and "customer decision to buy" are not sentences, just phrases. Even as phrases, I'm having a hard time imagining the exact use case. If you can, please edit to show some full sentences, even if they're made-up, like "Your order will be late because of an unforeseen ____" (in which case, no, "case" would not be a good choice). Nov 10, 2021 at 15:18
  • Thanks for trying help :) I added some more context but not sure if it will make more clear for you
    – Yuri Gor
    Nov 10, 2021 at 15:37
  • 'factors beyond our control' vs 'factors under our control' Nov 10, 2021 at 16:46

1 Answer 1


It seems that you're looking for words for "things that happen, without your direct agency" and "things that you cause to happen by making a direct choice." No, case is definitely not the best choice for the first usage, and I think we could improve on "choice" for the second too.

I think the best choices might be as simple as event and action—something that happens vs something you do.

ACTION: I woke up early and left the house on time.
EVENT: There was a traffic jam.
ACTION: I took another route.

Why not "case" or "choice"? Well, "case" tends to mean "an instance of something"—a case of the flu, a case of mistaken identities. I wouldn't say "I got caught in traffic: I experienced a case." For "choice," while it can be used to refer to the decision made or action taken ("You sold the teddy bears; that was your choice"), it also (and more often) refers to the options facing you before making a decision ("Soup or sandwich? Your choice.").

Other possibilities:

  • Decision speaks more to the action taken than "choice" does.
  • If all of the "cases" are things that happen to the user, experience could be an option.
  • If there's a clear implication that every "case" causes the user to take an action, you might call them stimuli (singular stimulus). (If they don't always provoke an action, though, this might be a bad choice.)
  • "Action" was my first candidate before I switched to "choice", The point of application is to choose most optimal strategy = which options to choose and which to ignore. So do you think word "option" is better then "choice"? Event is a good word, but I am afraid it sounds too much independent? User looks too much passive subject of the "event"? In the plan most of cases are consequences of some decisions made before. Example: user has an [option] to call for taxi. During 15 minutes [event] may happen with probability 80% - taxi will arrive. So is "event" good here?
    – Yuri Gor
    Nov 10, 2021 at 17:54
  • @YuriGor I think I'd go with decision, then, since the emphasis is still, it seems to me, on what the user chooses to do, rather than the array of options presented. And sure, I still think event might be the best replacement for "case," the one that fits the most uses. Nov 10, 2021 at 18:00
  • Cool, thanks a lot, decision + event sounds much better, even I use "decision" when try to explain it, and "event" is close to "eventually" which is good because each event is going to have estimated probability attribute.
    – Yuri Gor
    Nov 10, 2021 at 18:05
  • @YuriGor It also hints at the word "eventuality," which can mean an outcome that we can't entirely predict or control. (Though that itself wouldn't be a good fit.) Nov 10, 2021 at 18:08

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