caste

noun
\ ˈkast also ˈkäst How to pronounce caste (audio) \

Definition of caste

1 : one of the hereditary social classes in Hinduism that restrict the occupation of their members and their association with the members of other castes
2a : a division of society based on differences of wealth, inherited rank or privilege, profession, occupation, or race
b : the position conferred by caste standing : prestige art and religion have lost caste— F. L. Baumer
3 : a system of rigid social stratification characterized by hereditary status, endogamy, and social barriers sanctioned by custom, law, or religion
4 : a specialized form (such as the worker of an ant or bee) of a polymorphic social insect that carries out a particular function in the colony soldier castes for fighting enemy ants

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Other Words from caste

casteism \ ˈka-​ˌsti-​zəm How to pronounce casteism (audio) \ noun

Examples of caste in a Sentence

He was from a higher caste. a member of the upper caste

Recent Examples on the Web

Such social restrictions become more rigid higher up the caste hierarchy. The Economist, "Culture and the labour market keep India’s women at home," 5 July 2018 Portrait of injustice, caste prejudice, and venal politics in contemporary India. $9, 7 Speed members. Gege Reed, The Courier-Journal, "What to do around Louisville this week: Janet Jackson, Santa, speakeasy party & more," 29 Nov. 2017 The chief minister of the Indian state of Bihar, Nitish Kumar, played caste politics to gain power before successfully quelling Maoist terror. Ann Toews, WSJ, "‘A Savage Order’ Review: When a State Fuels Bloodshed," 11 Dec. 2018 The country mourns Nia Wilson through protest; in India, a dominant caste wants more. Jennie Neufeld, Vox, "Vox Sentences: #SayHerName: Nia Wilson," 27 July 2018 The original caste paintings are still seen at some museums, including the one at Mexico City’s Chapultepec Castle, and feature portraits of mixed-race families — usually the parents and one or two children. Washington Post, "Southwest ‘casta’ paintings spotlight race, popular culture," 10 Mar. 2018 Though of the highest Brahmin caste, his family was desperately poor, his father only able to work intermittently as a low-level government functionary due to chronic health problems. Aaron Gilbreath, Longreads, "We Are Scientists," 5 June 2018 In this tiny country lie eight of the world's ten highest mountains and more than 100 different castes and ethnic groups. Antonia Neubauer, Town & Country, "How to Plan a Trip to Asia," 5 Oct. 2016 The details differ from species to species, but in general, wasp colonies are structured into castes of female workers, who provide all facets of labor from caring for young to foraging for food. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "Five Real Life Wasp Superpowers Not in Ant-Man and the Wasp," 22 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'caste.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of caste

1613, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for caste

Portuguese casta, literally, race, lineage, from feminine of casto pure, chaste, from Latin castus

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Statistics for caste

Last Updated

28 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for caste

The first known use of caste was in 1613

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More Definitions for caste

caste

noun

English Language Learners Definition of caste

: one of the classes into which the Hindu people of India were traditionally divided
: a division of society based upon differences of wealth, rank, or occupation

caste

noun
\ ˈkast How to pronounce caste (audio) \

Kids Definition of caste

1 : one of the classes into which the Hindu people of India were formerly divided
2 : a division or class of society based on wealth, rank, or occupation
3 : social rank : prestige

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More from Merriam-Webster on caste

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with caste

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for caste

Spanish Central: Translation of caste

Nglish: Translation of caste for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of caste for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about caste

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