from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th 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.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. Any of the hereditary social classes and subclasses of South Asian societies.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- 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.
from The 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.
- 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.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- 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
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”].