[ kast, kahst ]
See synonyms for: castecaster on

  1. Sociology.

    • 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.

    • any rigid system of social distinctions.

  2. 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).

  1. any class or group of society sharing common cultural features: low caste; high caste.

  2. social position conferred upon one by a caste system: to lose caste.

  3. Entomology. one of the distinct forms among polymorphous social insects, performing a specialized function in the colony, as a queen, worker or soldier.

  1. of, relating to, or characterized by caste: a caste society; a caste system; a caste structure.

Origin of caste

First recorded in 1545–55; from Portuguese casta “race, breed,” noun use of casta, feminine of casto, from Latin castus “pure, chaste

Other words from caste

  • casteism, noun
  • casteless, adjective
  • an·ti·caste, adjective
  • in·ter·caste, adjective
  • subcaste, noun

Words that may be confused with caste

Words Nearby caste Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use caste in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for caste


/ (kɑːst) /

    • 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

    • Also called: caste system the system or basis of such classes

    • the social position or rank conferred by this system

  1. any social class or system based on such distinctions as heredity, rank, wealth, profession, etc

  1. the position conferred by such a system

  2. entomol any of various types of specialized individual, such as the worker, in social insects (hive bees, ants, etc)

Origin of caste

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

Scientific definitions for caste


[ kăst ]

  1. 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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for 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.

Notes for caste

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.

Notes for caste

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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.