1. a number of persons or things regarded as forming a group by reason of common attributes, characteristics, qualities, or traits; kind; sort: a class of objects used in daily living.
  2. a group of students meeting regularly to study a subject under the guidance of a teacher: The class had arrived on time for the lecture.
  3. the period during which a group of students meets for instruction.
  4. a meeting of a group of students for instruction.
  5. a classroom.
  6. a number of pupils in a school, or of students in a college, pursuing the same studies, ranked together, or graduated in the same year: She graduated from Ohio State, class of ’72.
  7. a social stratum sharing basic economic, political, or cultural characteristics, and having the same social position: Artisans form a distinct class in some societies.
  8. the system of dividing society; caste.
  9. social rank, especially high rank.
  10. the members of a given group in society, regarded as a single entity.
  11. any division of persons or things according to rank or grade: Hotels were listed by class, with the most luxurious ones listed first.
  12. excellence; exceptional merit: She’s a good performer, but she lacks class.
  13. Hinduism. any of the four social divisions, the Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaisya, and Shudra, of Hindu society; varna.Compare caste(def 2).
  14. Informal. elegance, grace, or dignity, as in dress and behavior: He may be a slob, but his brother has real class.
  15. any of several grades of accommodations available on ships, airplanes, and the like: We bought tickets for first class.
  16. Informal. the best or among the best of its kind: This new plane is the class of the wide-bodied airliners.
  17. Biology. the usual major subdivision of a phylum or division in the classification of organisms, usually consisting of several orders.
  18. British University. any of three groups into which candidates for honors degrees are divided according to merit on the basis of final examinations.
  19. drafted or conscripted soldiers, or persons available for draft or conscription, all of whom were born in the same year.
  20. Grammar. form class.
  21. Ecclesiastical. classis.
  22. (in early Methodism) one of several small companies, each composed of about 12 members under a leader, into which each society or congregation was divided.
  23. Statistics. a group of measurements that fall within a specified interval.
  24. Mathematics. a set; a collection.
  25. the classes, the higher ranks of society, as distinguished from the masses.


  1. Informal. of high quality, integrity, status, or style: class players on a mediocre team.

verb (used with object)

  1. to place or arrange in a class; classify: to class justice with wisdom.

verb (used without object)

  1. to take or have a place in a particular class: those who class as believers.

Verb Phrases

  1. class up, Informal. to improve the quality, tone, or status of; add elegance, dignity, style, etc., to: The new carpet and curtains really class up this room.


  1. a collection or division of people or things sharing a common characteristic, attribute, quality, or property
  2. a group of persons sharing a similar social position and certain economic, political, and cultural characteristics
  3. (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
  4. mainly US a group of students who graduated in a specified yearthe class of ’53
  5. (in combination and as modifier) British a grade of attainment in a university honours degreesecond-class honours
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. maths logic
    1. another name for set 2 (def. 3)
    2. proper classa class which cannot itself be a member of other classes
  9. in a class of its own or in a class by oneself unequalled; unparalleled


  1. to have or assign a place within a group, grade, or 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.


  1. A taxonomic category ranking below a phylum or division and above an order.

  1. 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.

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.)

see cut class.

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