\ 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 In India, dark skin is often associated with poverty, partially due to the hierarchichal caste system. Melissa Tandiwe Myambo, Quartz India, "In countries like India, skin colour matters when you are a migrant," 17 Dec. 2019 Field organizers are the lowest caste in politics apart from unpaid volunteers - often people in their 20s who uproot themselves and move to far-flung parts of the country to work long hours and gain campaign experience in high-stress environments., "Bernie Sanders campaign workers unionize, demand his promised $15-an-hour," 19 July 2019 Appropriately, his paintings’ titles often come from the great beyond: Spirit art is a type of picture said to be guided from the afterlife, while Maga is a Hindu priestly caste. Christopher Knight,, "Tony DeLap's hybrids of painting and sculpture are impossible objects," 16 Mar. 2018 In India, gruesome reports of rape and retaliatory killing are hauntingly familiar, and whether a report of rape rises above the din is largely determined by class and caste dynamics. Washington Post, "7 years after Delhi gang rape, brutal India attacks continue," 16 Dec. 2019 Believing that the equal-protection clause was originally understood to block laws creating a social caste, Balkin thinks that judges applying the clause must make moral determinations about the fairness of a law’s impact on women and minorities. Sherif Girgis, National Review, "Neil Gorsuch’s Judicial Humility," 5 Dec. 2019 This alliance involved two Hindu-nationalist parties, the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), which commands the national government in Delhi, and Shiv Sena, a hot-headed local party built on the prickly pride of the Marathas, a dominant regional caste. The Economist, "Political drama has gripped the home state of Bollywood," 29 Nov. 2019 The inexplicable aftermath of all that enables various tribes of teens to essentially run amok -- think the high-school caste system on steroids -- with theadded degree of difficulty that everyone risks getting killed or eaten. Brian Lowry, CNN, "'Daybreak' and 'Looking for Alaska' unleash streaming teen troubles," 21 Oct. 2019 After 400 years of racial slavery, racial terrorism and racial caste, the nation must reckon with the debt (in whatever form) owed to African Americans. Wendell Nii Laryea Adjetey, Twin Cities, "Wendell Nii Laryea Adjetey: Why now is the moment to atone for 400 years of racism," 28 July 2019

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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Time Traveler for caste

Time Traveler

The first known use of caste was in 1613

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Statistics for caste

Last Updated

14 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Caste.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 19 January 2020.

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More Definitions for caste


How to pronounce caste (audio)

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


\ 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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for caste

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with caste

Spanish Central: Translation of caste

Nglish: Translation of caste for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of caste for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about caste

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