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Caste: Meaning and Definition | Meaning of Caste | What is Caste ?


Caste: Meaning and Definition


The word 'caste' is a Hindi adaptation of the English language caste. This English word is derived from the Portuguese 'casta' and it is used to refer to difference of opinion and caste. 

“Caste is an absolutely rigid class. Which does not accept mobility in the group." It is clear from the various definitions of the above mentioned scholars that caste is a type of social group which is based on birth. Also, it includes profession, social cohabitation, eating habits towards its members. There are prohibitions related to marriage etc.


Many scholars have interpreted caste in many ways. Some important views and definitions of scholars are being presented here-

According to Charles Cooley

"When a class is based solely on heredity, we call it caste."

According to Mazumdar and Madan

"Caste is a closed class."

According to Blunt

“A caste is an endogamous group or set of endogamous groups, it has a common name, its membership is hereditary. It imposes on its members certain prohibitions in the field of social cohabitation, its members may either engage in a common customary occupation associated or claim their origin on some common basis and are thus valid as a homogeneous community.


According to J.H. Hutton

“Caste is a system under which a society is divided into a number of self-centered and completely isolated units (castes). The mutual relations between these units are determined on cultural grounds in the form of hierarchy. "

According to Ketkar


“Caste is a social group and it has two characteristics

1) Membership of the caste is restricted to those who were born in the same caste.

2) Its members are prohibited by a rigid social rule from marrying outside their group.

According to Irawati Karve

"Caste is really an extended kinship group."