Simple Definition of stratum
: one of usually many layers of a substance (such as rock)
: a level of society made up of people of the same rank or position
Full Definition of stratumplural
strataplay \ˈstrā-tə, ˈstra-\
1 : a bed or layer artificially made
2a : a sheetlike mass of sedimentary rock or earth of one kind lying between beds of other kindsb : a region of the sea or atmosphere that is analogous to a stratum of the earthc : a layer of tissue <deep stratum of the skin>d : a layer in which archaeological material (as artifacts, skeletons, and dwelling remains) is found on excavation
3a : a part of a historical or sociological series representing a period or a stage of developmentb : a socioeconomic level of society comprising persons of the same or similar status especially with regard to education or culture
4 : one of a series of layers, levels, or gradations in an ordered system <strata of thought>
5 : a statistical subpopulation
Usage Discussion of stratum
The plural strata has occasionally been used as a singular since the 18th century and is sometimes given the plural stratas <there was a strata of Paris which mere criticism of books fails to get hold of — Ezra Pound> <a Roman burial ground suggests stratas of corruption and decay — Connie Fletcher, Booklist>. Current evidence shows senses 2, 3b, and 4 so used, with 3b the most common. Singular strata is persistent but not frequent. Strata may someday establish itself as a singular like agenda, but that use is still not established.
Examples of stratum in a sentence
<the lower strata of society have been hit especially hard by this economic downturn>
<the level of writing in that pop novel is several strata beneath that of serious fiction>
Did You Know?
In geology, a stratum is a layer of rock or soil that is distinct from those above and below it. Rock and soil strata (notice the plural form) can be seen in road cuts, cliffs, quarries, riverbanks, and sand dunes, and in pieces of limestone, slate, and shale. Archaeologists digging in historical sites are careful to note the stratum where each artifact is found. Earth scientists divide the earth's atmosphere into strata, just as oceanographers divide the ocean's depths into strata. And for social scientists, a stratum is a group of people who are similar in some way, such as education, culture, or income.
Origin and Etymology of stratum
New Latin, from Latin, spread, bed, from neuter of stratus, past participle of sternere to spread out — more at strew
First Known Use: 1599
STRATUM Defined for Kids
Seen and Heard
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