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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.
A taxonomic category ranking below a phylum or division and above an order.
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.
: a real class jointnoun
High quality; admirable style; cachet: quiet dignity under fire, real class (1870s+)Related Terms