Origin of class

1590–1600; earlier classis, plural classes < Latin: class, division, fleet, army; singular class back formation from plural
Related formsclass·a·ble, adjectiveclass·er, nounmis·class, verbre·class, verb (used with object)un·class·a·ble, adjectiveun·classed, adjectivewell-classed, adjective
Can be confusedcast caste class

Synonyms for class

Usage note


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for class

Contemporary Examples of class

Historical Examples of class

British Dictionary definitions for class



a collection or division of people or things sharing a common characteristic, attribute, quality, or property
a group of persons sharing a similar social position and certain economic, political, and cultural characteristics
(in Marxist theory) a group of persons sharing the same relationship to the means of production
  1. the pattern of divisions that exist within a society on the basis of rank, economic status, etc
  2. (as modifier)the class struggle; class distinctions
  1. a group of pupils or students who are taught and study together
  2. a meeting of a group of students for tuition
mainly US a group of students who graduated in a specified yearthe class of '53
(in combination and as modifier) British a grade of attainment in a university honours degreesecond-class honours
one of several standards of accommodation in public transportSee also first class, second class, third class
  1. informalexcellence or elegance, esp in dress, design, or behaviourthat girl's got class
  2. (as modifier)a class act
  1. outstanding speed and stamina in a racehorse
  2. (as modifier)the class horse in the race
biology any of the taxonomic groups into which a phylum is divided and which contains one or more orders. Amphibia, Reptilia, and Mammalia are three classes of phylum Chordata
maths logic
  1. another name for set 2 (def. 3)
  2. proper classa class which cannot itself be a member of other classes
in a class of its own or in a class by oneself unequalled; unparalleled


to have or assign a place within a group, grade, or class
Derived Formsclassable, adjectiveclasser, noun

Word Origin for class

C17: from Latin classis class, rank, fleet; related to Latin calāre to summon
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

Word Origin and History for class

c.1600, "group of students," from French classe (14c.), from Latin classis "a class, a division; army, fleet," especially "any one of the six orders into which Servius Tullius divided the Roman people for the purpose of taxation;" traditionally originally "the people of Rome under arms" (a sense attested in English from 1650s), and thus akin to calare "to call (to arms)," from PIE root *kele- (2) "to shout" (see claim (v.)). In early use in English also in Latin form classis.

School and university sense of "course, lecture" (1650s) is from the notion of a form or lecture reserved to scholars who had attained a certain level. Natural history sense is from 1753. Meaning "a division of society according to status" (upper, lower, etc.) is from 1772. Meaning "high quality" is from 1847. Class-consciousness (1903) is from German klassenbewusst.


1705, "to divide into classes," from class (n.) or French classer. Sense of "to place into a class" is from 1776. Related: Classed; classing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for class




A taxonomic category ranking below a phylum or division and above an order.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for class



A taxonomic category of organisms ranking above an order and below a phylum or division. In modern taxonomic schemes, the names of classes end in -phyceae for the various groups of algae, -mycetes for fungi, and -opsida for plants (as in Liliopsida, the class of plants also termed monocotyledons). The names of classes belonging to phyla of the animal kingdom, however, are formed in various ways, as Osteichthyes the bony fishes, Aves, the birds, and Mammalia, the mammals, all of which are classes belonging to the subphylum Vertebrata (the vertebrates) in the phylum Chordata. See Table at taxonomy.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Culture definitions for class


A group of people sharing the same social, economic, or occupational status. The term class usually implies a social and economic hierarchy, in which those of higher class standing have greater status, privilege, prestige, and authority. Western societies have traditionally been divided into three classes: the upper or leisure class, the middle class (bourgeoisie), and the lower or working class. For Marxists, the significant classes are the bourgeoisie and the proletariat (see also proletariat).


In biology, the classification beneath a phylum and above an order. (See Linnean classification.)


Mammals, reptiles, and insects are classes.
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.

Idioms and Phrases with class


see cut class.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.