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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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)
“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.
- 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.
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.