social status or position conferred by a system based on class
"lose caste by doing work beneath one's station"
(Hinduism) a hereditary social class among Hindus; stratified according to ritual purity
a social class separated from others by distinctions of hereditary rank or profession or wealth
in some social insects (such as ants) a physically distinct individual or group of individuals specialized to perform certain functions in the colony
Any of the hereditary social classes and subclasses of South Asian societies.
Caste is a form of social stratification characterized by endogamy, hereditary transmission of a style of life which often includes an occupation, ritual status in a hierarchy, and customary social interaction and exclusion based on cultural notions of purity and pollution. Its paradigmatic ethnographic example is the division of India's Hindu society into rigid social groups, with roots in India's ancient history and persisting until today. However, the economic significance of the caste system in India has been declining as a result of urbanization and affirmative action programs. A subject of much scholarship by sociologists and anthropologists, the Hindu caste system is sometimes used as an analogical basis for the study of caste-like social divisions existing outside Hinduism and India. According to UNICEF and Human Rights Watch, caste discrimination affects an estimated 250 million people worldwide.