Meaning of CLASS in English

I. class 1 S1 W1 /klɑːs $ klæs/ BrE AmE noun

[ Date: 1500-1600 ; Language: French ; Origin: classe , from Latin classis 'class of citizens, social class' ]


a) [countable] one of the groups in a society that different types of people are divided into according to their jobs, income, education etc:

a member of the landed class (=people who own land)

⇨ ↑ lower class , ↑ middle class , ↑ upper class , ↑ working class , ⇨ the chattering classes at ↑ chatter 1 (4)

b) [uncountable] the system in which people are divided into these groups:

Defining the concept of class is not an easy task.

The old class system is slowly disappearing.

2 . STUDENTS [ C, also + plural verb British English ]

a) a group of students who are taught together ⇨ classmate

in a class

We’re in the same class for math.

Gary came top of the class in English.

My class are going to the Lake District.

b) American English a group of students who finished studying together in the same year ⇨ classmate :

a class reunion

the class of 1965/2001 etc (=the group of students who finished in 1965 etc)

The class of '69 spent almost as much time protesting as learning.

3 . TEACHING PERIOD [uncountable and countable] a period of time during which someone teaches a group of people, especially in a school SYN lesson British English :

I missed Bible class last week.

in class (=during the class)

No talking in class!

He was injured in a science class.

4 . STUDYING [countable] a series of classes in a particular subject SYN course British English

class in

a class in photography at night school

a dance class

Cindy’s taking a class on dealing with stress.

5 . SAME TYPE OF SOMETHING [countable] a group of people, animals, or things that are considered together because they are similar in some way

class of

Have you passed a test for this class of vehicle?

6 . TRAIN/AIRCRAFT ETC [countable usually singular] one of the different standards of seats, food etc available on a train, aircraft etc

first/business/tourist etc class

We always travel first class.

7 . QUALITY [countable] a group into which people or things are divided according to their quality or abilities

nicer/better etc class of something

The port now attracts a wealthier class of visitor.

in a class of its own/in a different class (=better than everything else)

Its sheer versatility puts this computer in a different class.

He’s not in the same class (=not as good) as her at tennis.

8 . STYLE/SKILL [uncountable] informal a high level of style or skill in something ⇨ classy

have/show class

The team showed real class in this afternoon’s match.

A fountain will give your garden a touch of class.

class player/actress etc

a class act informal (=someone who is skilful, attractive etc)

Laughton is a class act who’s proved his worth in the game.

⇨ ↑ high-class , ↑ low-class

9 . UNIVERSITY DEGREE [countable] British English one of the three levels of a university degree:

a second class degree

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 1)

■ adjectives

▪ social class

Is there a link between crime and social class?

▪ the working/lower class

At this time most of the working class was very poor.

▪ the middle class

A new middle class emerged after the war.

▪ the upper class

Members of the upper class didn’t have to work.

▪ the ruling class (=the people in power)

For a long time, French was the language of the ruling class.

▪ the professional class (=the people with professional jobs)

Doctors, lawyers, and teachers are all members of the professional class.

▪ the landowning/landed class (=the people who own land)

This imposition of taxes angered the landed classes.

▪ the educated class

The educated classes shared certain values and experiences.

▪ the privileged class (=people with advantages because of their wealth, social position etc)

Holidays abroad used to be only for the rich and privileged classes.

■ verbs

▪ belong to a class

Like you, I belong to the working class.

▪ be a member of a class

I suppose I’m a member of the middle class.

■ class + NOUN

▪ a class system/structure (=a social system that has classes)

He felt he was a victim of the class system.

▪ a class division

Nowadays, class divisions are related to economic status.

▪ class differences (=differences that exist because of your class)

There are noticeable class differences in family size.

▪ the class struggle/war (=disagreement or fighting between different classes)

the class struggle between workers and capitalists

▪ class conflict

This is the basis of class conflict in capitalist society.

▪ class consciousness (=being aware of what class people belong to)

There is a high level of class consciousness among the workers.

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meanings 3 & 4)


▪ a French/geography/history etc class

I have a history class at nine o'clock today.

▪ an evening class

Mum goes to an evening class on Tuesdays.

▪ a beginners’/elementary/intermediate/advanced class (=teaching different levels of a subject)

An advanced class might be available.

■ verbs

▪ go to/attend a class

I’ve got to go to a science class now.

▪ attend class (=go to classes regularly)

You can’t pass your exams if you don’t attend class.

▪ take a class (=go to classes as a student)

I’m taking some art classes at the moment.

▪ teach a class

One of the other teachers was ill so I taught her class.

▪ miss a class (=not go to one)

Students who miss classes get behind with their work.

▪ be late for class

David was late for class again.

▪ have a class especially American English (=as a student or teacher)

What classes do you have this morning?

▪ hold a class (=provide a class)

Evening classes are held in the local school.

• • •


▪ class a group of students or schoolchildren who are taught together:

There are twenty kids in the class.


She gets along well with the other children in her class.


I’m going out with some friends from my dance class.


'I graduated in 1999.' 'What class were you in?'

▪ background the type of home and family you come from, and its social class:

The school takes kids from all sorts of backgrounds.


We come from the same town and share a similar background.

| working-class/middle-class etc background :

The organization helps children from working-class backgrounds to go to university.

▪ middle-class belonging to the class of people who are usually well educated, fairly rich, and who work in jobs which they have trained to do. For example, doctors, lawyers, and managers are middle-class:

The newspaper’s readers are mostly middle class.


They live in a middle-class neighbourhood on the edge of town.

▪ white-collar someone who works in an office, not a factory, mine etc: white-collar worker/job/employee :

The economic recession has put many white-collar workers in danger of losing their jobs.

▪ working-class belonging to the class of people who do not have much money or power, and who have jobs where they do physical work. For example, factory workers, builders, and drivers are working-class:

Most of the people who live round here are working class.


I come from a working-class family – I’m the first one to graduate from college.

▪ blue-collar someone who does physical work, for example in a factory or a mine, and does not work in an office: blue-collar worker/job/employee :

His political support comes mainly from blue-collar workers.

▪ upper-class belonging to the class of people who originally had most of the money and power, especially families that own a lot of land:

Most senior politicians in the UK are from upper-class families.


He spoke with an upper-class accent.

▪ underclass the lowest social class, who are very poor and may not have jobs, homes etc:

The government has created an underclass who do not feel they have any rights in society.

II. class 2 BrE AmE verb [transitive often passive]

to consider people, things etc as belonging to a particular group, using an official system SYN classify

class somebody/something as something

Heroin and cocaine are classed as hard drugs.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.