Class

The word “class” comes to English from the Latin classis via the French classe. It first appears in Thomas Blount’s Glossographia (1656), where he defined it in the language of the times as “an order or distribution of people according to their several Degrees.” Citing Blount, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) traces the term’s origins to its use by Servius Tullius who, seeking to raise funds for the Roman military, conducted a census for the purpose of taxing citizens according to their means. He created six categories or classes, based on property or net wealth (Kostick 2005). In spite of the strong resonance of its etymology with contemporary socioeconomic understandings of class, when it first entered the English language classe had greater purchase in reference to a division of scholars or students, and later as a natural history term. According to the OED, its use in …

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