- Law A lawsuit that falls under the jurisdiction of a federal court.
- Informal A major issue that has evolved from a minor problem: made a federal case out of our tardiness.
- (idiomatic) Any over-exaggerated ordeal.
- So I didn't put the toilet seat down — you don't have to make a federal case out of it.
In the United States of America, courts with federal jurisdiction generally are for much more serious offenses than those whose cases are heard by local courts.