Wednesday, August 20, 2014

outcast/outcaste: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Believe it or not, these two similar words have very different origins. An “outcast” is someone who has been cast (thrown) out of a group, and may be used loosely of all kinds of loners.

An “outcaste” is technically a South Asian person who has been expelled from his or her caste, or a person who lacks a caste identification. Although this spelling can be used metaphorically, it is probably better to confine it to discussions of social relations in Hinduism and other South Asian contexts.

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