American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. Any of the hereditary, endogamous social classes or subclasses of traditional Hindu society, stratified according to Hindu ritual purity, especially the Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaisya, and Sudra castes.
- n. A social class separated from others by distinctions of hereditary rank, profession, or wealth.
- n. A social system or the principle of grading society based on castes.
- n. The social position or status conferred by a system based on castes: lose caste by doing work beneath one's station.
- n. A specialized level in a colony of social insects, such as ants, in which the members, such as workers or soldiers, carry out a specific function.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- A Middle English variant of chaste.
- n. One of the artificial divisions or social classes into which the Hindus are rigidly separated according to the religious law of Brahmanism, and of which the privileges or disabilities are transmitted by inheritance. The principal castes are four in number: 1st, the Brahmans, or the sacerdotal caste; 2d, the Kshatriyas, modern Rajputs, or military caste; 3d, the Vaisyas, or husbandmen and merchants, who have now in many districts become merged in the second and fourth castes; 4th, the Sudras, or laborers and mechanics. The Brahmans are supposed to have sprung from the mouth of Brahma, the Kshatriyas from his arms, the Vaisyas from his belly and thighs, and the Sudras from his feet. The Brahman represents religion; the Kshatriya, war; the Vaisya, commerce and wealth; and the Sudra, labor. There are many subdivisions of caste, and although the Sudras are degraded far below the Brahmans, Kshatriyas, and Vaisyas, there are reckoned thirty-six subdivisions lower than the Sudras. Lowest of all are the Pariahs, who are supposed to be of no caste, and mere outcasts from humanity. Of the castes, the first three are the natural and gradually established divisions of the Aryan invaders and conquerors of India; the fourth was made up of the subjugated aborigines. The Sanskrit name for caste is varna, color, the different castes having been at first marked by differences of complexion, according to race, and in some degree according to occupation and consequent exposure. Besides the original castes, numerous mixed classes or castes have sprung up in the progress of time, and are dependent upon trade, occupation, or profession; in fact, the essential principle in the system of caste is the confining of employments to hereditary classes. Castes are, according to Indian social standards, either “high” or “low.” The same term is also used of somewhat similar classes in other countries.
- n. Hence A division of society, or the principle of grading society, according to external conditions; a class or grade separated from others by differences of wealth, hereditary rank or privileges, or by profession or employment.
- n. In entomology, any one of the distinct forms found among the polymorphic social insects, especially the true ants and the white ants or termites.
- n. Same as half-caste.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. One of the hereditary classes into which the Hindu are divided according to the laws of Brahmanism.
- n. A separate and fixed order or class of persons in society who chiefly hold intercourse among themselves.
- n. in some social insects (such as ants) a physically distinct individual or group of individuals specialized to perform certain functions in the colony
- n. a social class separated from others by distinctions of hereditary rank or profession or wealth
- n. (Hinduism) a hereditary social class among Hindus; stratified according to ritual purity
- n. social status or position conferred by a system based on class
- From Portuguese or Spanish casta ("lineage, breed, race"), of uncertain origin. The OED derives it from Portuguese casto ("chaste"), from Latin castus. Coromines (1987) argues instead for a hypothetical Gothic form *𐌺𐌰𐍃𐍄𐍃 (kasts), cognate with English cast, from Proto-Germanic *kastuz (Wiktionary)
- Spanish casta, race, and Portuguese casta, race, caste, both from feminine of casto, pure, from Latin castus. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“It may seem to many of my readers that to use the term caste as a principle which impels one Scotchman to help another is not exactly correct; and I must admit to having some doubts on the subject myself.”
“But the word "caste" is routinely used by government experts to refer to social strata in underprivileged Muslim communities.”
“The following is taken from Rumer Godden's short story "The Oyster," about a young Indian, Gopal, of the Hindu Brahmin caste, who is happily studying in France and learning all things western.”
“That figure sounds way too low if caste is defined as jati, at least for Bombay.”
“The word caste is derived from the spanish word casta which means breed, race, strain or hereditary complex of hereditary qualities.”
“The thing about wealth, though, (and I think when we talk class these days, for most people in North America, we are talking about finances, for class as caste is less deeply ingrained here) is that it ebbs and flows.”
“The word caste is infact a Portuguese word and primarily refers to the caste systems found in South America.”
“Let me remove the word caste for it is politically incorrect etiquette and use the word traditional panchayats.”
“Damon referred to this aristocratic group — which included many of The Atlantic's editors and contributors — as the "Brahmin caste" and gave a piercing sketch of this subset of Boston community:”
“Maitreya used the word caste (rigs, Skt. kula) here, sometimes translated as “family” [as in “the five Buddha-families”].”
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These come from gamma meditation ,I think.
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Didactic and likely fallible tracking of secretive nomadic language Zincali gypsy.
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