General English

General Science

  • noun a group with a particular function in a hierarchical society of social insects such as termites


  • noun one of the hereditary divisions in a Hindu society where social classes were formerly strictly divided


  • (written as Caste)
    A play by Tom Robertson, first performed in Londonin 1867 at the Prince of Wales' Theatre. It is regarded as the bestof Robertson's cup-and-saucer dramas, which introduced anew realism in the era of melodrama. Castewas one of the short titles Robertson employed as a deliberate contrastto more pretentiously named contemporary works (see shortesttitles).

    The play uses the story of Esther Eccles, a ballerina whomarries into the aristocratic family of the Hon. George D'Alroy toattack class prejudice. The couple live happily for six months untilGeorge is stationed in India and reportedly killed. His mother demandscustody of her grandson from the now empoverished Esther who refuses,saying she will return to dancing to support herself and the child.George suddenly reappears, delighted to learn of his child and aboutEsther's independence. Before the final curtain several charactershave denounced the folly of snobbery.

Origin & History of “caste”

Caste has no etymological connection with cast. It is borrowed from Spanish and Portuguese casta ‘race, breed’, a nominal use of the adjective casta ‘pure’, from Latin castus (source of English chaste). The notion underlying the word thus appears to be ‘racial purity’. Use of casta by the Portuguese in India with reference to the Hindu social groupings led to its being adopted in this sense by English in the 17th century.