Easily Confused Words: Caste vs. Cast

Caste and cast are easily confused words. They are homophones, meaning they sound the same but are spelled differently.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It suggests what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions couldn’t be more off base and produces humorous results.

Caste is a noun. It means a system of social classes for people that has existed in India for a long time. A caste is also the name for each level of class within that system. The highest caste is the brahmins, the lowest caste is the untouchables. Typically one’s caste affects one’s quality of life dramatically.

Cast is a noun. It also refers to a grouping of people, but in theater or movies. The cast is the set of characters in the story, and the actors make up the cast.

A cast is also a gauze and plaster wrapping placed on a broken limb in order to guide its regrowth back into a straight line, and prevent further injury.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Casper was used to being at the top of the social ladder at school, but junior year he was injured and had to wear a cast for a very long time.. He learned he probably couldn’t play anymore and this changed how the team, the cheerleaders, and almost everyone interacted with him at school. He felt like he’d dropped several caste levels, and it really put him him in a funk. 


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