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 the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.