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[kas-ter, kah-ster] /ˈkæs tər, ˈkɑ stər/
noun, Also, castor (for defs 2–5).
a person or thing that casts.
a small wheel on a swivel, set under a piece of furniture, a machine, etc., to facilitate moving it.
a bottle or cruet for holding a condiment.
a stand containing a set of such bottles.
a metal container for sugar, pepper, etc., having a perforated top to permit sprinkling; dredger; muffineer.
Automotive. the angle that the kingpin makes with the vertical. Automobiles are usually designed with the upper end of the kingpin inclined rearward (positive caster) for improved directional stability.
verb (used without object)
(of a wheel) to swivel freely in a horizontal plane.
Origin of caster
Middle English word dating back to 1300-50; See origin at cast, -er1
Related forms
casterless, adjective


[kast, kahst] /kæst, kɑst/
  1. an endogamous and hereditary social group limited to persons of the same rank, occupation, economic position, etc., and having mores distinguishing it from other such groups.
  2. any rigid system of social distinctions.
Hinduism. any of the social divisions into which Hindu society is traditionally divided, each caste having its own privileges and limitations, transferred by inheritance from one generation to the next; jati.
Compare class (def 13).
any class or group of society sharing common cultural features:
low caste; high caste.
social position conferred upon one by a caste system:
to lose caste.
Entomology. one of the distinct forms among polymorphous social insects, performing a specialized function in the colony, as a queen, worker or soldier.
of, relating to, or characterized by caste:
a caste society; a caste system; a caste structure.
1545-55; < Portuguese casta race, breed, noun use of casta, feminine of casto < Latin castus pure, chaste
Related forms
casteism, noun
casteless, adjective
anticaste, adjective
intercaste, adjective
subcaste, noun
Can be confused
cast, caste, class. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for caster
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I shall go back and refute that common scoffer, that caster of doubts.

    The Burning Spear John Galsworthy
  • Happily my bust is out of hand, and the caster (not B. this time) is hard at work on it.

    The Eternal City Hall Caine
  • His opponent, still with his secretive smile, took up the caster.

    In Kings' Byways Stanley J. Weyman
  • The chief Latin contributions are -Chester, -cester, -caster, Lat.

    The Romance of Names

    Ernest Weekley
  • One of these is the composing machine, or keyboard, the other the caster, or type-founder.

  • In the middle were hooks in the trunk-beams for the caster and the lantern.

    The Yacht Club Oliver Optic
  • The caster hung the mask by the door at the entrance to his shop.

    The Goose Man Jacob Wassermann
  • The caster removed it from the door, laid it on the counter, and named his price.

    The Goose Man Jacob Wassermann
British Dictionary definitions for caster


a person or thing that casts
Also castor. a bottle with a perforated top for sprinkling sugar, etc, or a stand containing such bottles
Also castor. a small wheel mounted on a swivel so that the wheel tends to turn into its plane of rotation


  1. any of the four major hereditary classes, namely the Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaisya, and Sudra into which Hindu society is divided See also Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaisya, Sudra
  2. Also called caste system. the system or basis of such classes
  3. the social position or rank conferred by this system
any social class or system based on such distinctions as heredity, rank, wealth, profession, etc
the position conferred by such a system
(entomol) any of various types of specialized individual, such as the worker, in social insects (hive bees, ants, etc)
Word Origin
C16: from Portuguese casta race, breed, ancestry, from casto pure, chaste, from Latin castus
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for caster

"person or thing that casts," late 14c. (also sometimes castor), agent noun from cast (v.). Meaning "pepper shaker, small perforated container" is from 1670s, on notion of "throwing."


"wheel and swivel attached to furniture," 1748, agent noun from cast (v.) in the old sense of "turn." Also sometimes castor.



1550s, "a race of men," from Latin castus "chaste," from castus "cut off, separated; pure" (via notion of "cut off" from faults), past participle of carere "to be cut off from" (and related to castration), from PIE *kas-to-, from root *kes- "to cut" (cf. Latin cassus "empty, void"). Originally spelled cast in English and later often merged with cast (n.) in its secondary sense "sort, kind, style."

Application to Hindu social groups was picked up by English in India 1610s from Portuguese casta "breed, race, caste," earlier casta raça, "unmixed race," from the same Latin word. The current spelling of of the English word is from this reborrowing. Caste system is first recorded 1840.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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caster in Science

A specialized group carrying out a specific function within a colony of social insects. For example, in an ant colony, members of the caste of workers forage for food outside the colony or tend eggs and larvae, while the members of the caste of soldiers, often larger with stronger jaws, are responsible for defense of the colony.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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caster in Culture
caste [(kast)]

One of the four hereditary social divisions in Hinduism. Members of any one caste are restricted in their choice of occupation and may have only limited association with members of other castes.

Note: Caste has come to mean a group of persons set apart by economic, social, religious, legal, or political criteria, such as occupation, status, religious denomination, legal privilege, skin color, or some other physical characteristic. Members of a caste tend to associate among themselves and rarely marry outside the caste. Castes are more socially separate from each other than are social classes.
Note: During the height of segregation in the United States, African-Americans were sometimes loosely referred to as a caste.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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