The word caste is derived from the spanish word casta which means breed, race, strain or hereditary complex of hereditary qualities. The Portuguese used this word for classes of people in India known by the term jati.
Herbert Risley has defined caste as a collection of families or group of families bearing a common name; claiming a common descent from a mythical ancestor, human or divine, professing to follow the same hereditary calling and regarded by those who are competent to give an opinion as forming a single homogenous community.
Lundberg defined caste as a merely rigid social class into which members are born from which they can withdraw or escape only with extreme difficulty. According to Cooley when a class is somewhat strictly hereditary, we may call it a caste. However According to Ghurye there is no real definition of caste.