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A member of the lowest class in traditional Indian society, falling altogether outside the Hindu caste categories and subject to extensive social restrictions.

[Hindi dalit, crushed, oppressed, from Sanskrit dalita-, past passive participle of dalayati, to cause to burst, variant of darayati, he splits, derived form (probably a denominative of -daraḥ, smasher, as in puraṃdaraḥ, citadel-smasher, an epithet of Indra) of darati, he splits; see der- in Indo-European roots.]

Da′lit adj.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(Hinduism) a member of the lowest class in India, whom those of the four main castes were formerly forbidden to touch. Formerly called (offensive): untouchable
[from Hindi, from Sanskrit dalita, literally: oppressed]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
References in periodicals archive ?
Continuing with the tradition of expanding its Hindu mass base, the party has persisted in its outreach towards backward castes and Dalits (untouchable caste).
Sujatha Gidla's family memoir, Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India, details the history of social and political activism among the untouchable caste as well the many injustices suffered by her family.
The polls are a major step toward implementing the new constitution, which aims to empower marginalised communities, including women and Dalits - members of the so-called untouchable caste - by ensuring greater representation in state institutions.
Roy offers a different account, one relayed from the margins--not just the viewpoint of Anjum, who is both Muslim and a hijra, but also that of a man who was born into what was formerly considered an untouchable caste. Roy spares no one who is in a position of power.
Born into a poor Mahar (considered an untouchable caste) family, Ambedkar campaigned against social discrimination, the system of Chaturvarna - the categorization of Hindu society into four varnas - and the Hindu caste system.
Yulia Egorova and Shahid Perwez have produced an absorbing, comprehensive and theoretically-informed, anthropological study of a community which since the late 1980s has emerged out of the Madiga, an untouchable caste in Andhra Pradesh, as the Bene Ephraim, asserting descent from ancient Israelites, and thereby a Jewish identity.
It was here in 1917 that Gandhi invited those from the untouchable caste to join in the work of the Ashram.
But what has the international community achieved in helping the tiny bonded labourers in India, the daljits and harijans of the untouchable caste, whose little children work chained to work benches as they embroider saris for the wealthy?
His way was blocked by a candala, a member of the untouchable caste. Reacting with ingrained caste prejudice, he ordered the candala out of the way.
The young man belonged to Jatava, an untouchable caste, and the woman to the Jats, the so-called backward caste.
He scored some outstanding firsts for a member of a Hindu untouchable caste, in high school graduation, colleges and university degrees in Bombay, London and Columbia, achievements considered impossible for a member of an oppressed caste.
All are from Sofi's 700 Dalit families, India's Untouchable caste who are looked down upon by the rest of the population.