• Cast


    • UK: enPR: käst, IPA: /kɑːst/
    • US: enPR: kăst, IPA: /kæst/
    • Rhymes: -ɑːst
    • Homophones: caste, karst


    From Middle English casten, from Old Norse kasta ("to throw, cast, overturn"), from Proto-Germanic *kastōną ("to throw, cast"), of unknown origin. Cognate with Scots cast ("to cast, throw"), Danish kaste ("to throw"), Swedish kasta ("to throw, cast, fling, toss, discard"), Icelandic kasta ("to pitch, toss"). It displaced native warp; and has in literal senses itself been generally displaced by throw.

    Full definition of cast


    1. (now somewhat literary) To throw. from 13th c.
      • 1623, William Shakespeare, Two Gentlemen of Verona:Why then a Ladder quaintly made of Cords
        To cast vp, with a paire of anchoring hookes,
        Would serue to scale another Hero's towre ....
      • 1760, Lawrence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, 262:The more, an' please your honour, the pity, said the Corporal; in uttering which, he cast his spade into the wheelbarrow ....
    2. To direct (one's eyes, gaze etc.). from 13th c.
      • 1595, William Shakespeare, Henry VI, part 3:To whom do Lyons cast their gentle Lookes? Not to the Beast, that would vsurpe their Den.
      • 1813, Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, I.11:She then yawned again, threw aside her book, and cast her eyes round the room in quest of some amusement ....
    3. To throw forward (a fishing line, net etc.) into the sea. from 14th c.
      • 1526, Bible, tr. William Tyndale, Matthew 4:As Jesus walked by the see off Galile, he sawe two brethren: Simon which was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, castynge a neet into the see (for they were fisshers) ....
    4. To add up (a column of figures, accounts etc.); cross-cast refers to adding up a row of figures. from 14th c.
      • 1594, William Shakespeare, Henry VI, part 2:The Clearke of Chartam: hee can write and
        reade, and cast accompt.
      • 1603, John Florio, translating Michel de Montaigne, Essays, II.17:I cannot yet cast account either with penne or Counters.
      • 1719 Daniel Defoe, I cast up the notches on my post, and found I had been on shore three hundred and sixty-five days.
    5. (astrology) To calculate the astrological value of (a horoscope, birth etc.). from 14th c.
      • 1621, Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy, vol. 1, New York Review Books 2001, p. 309:he is ... a perfect astrologer, that can cast the rise and fall of others, and mark their errant motions to his own use.
      • 1971, Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic, Folio Society 2012, p. 332:John Gadbury confessed that Mrs Cellier, ‘the Popish Midwife’, had asked him to cast the King's nativity, although the astrology claimed to have refused to do so.
      • 1985, Lawrence Durrell, Quinx, Faber & Faber 2004 Avignon Quintet, p. 1197:He did the washing up and stayed behind to watch the dinner cook while she hopped off with a friend to have her horoscope cast by another friend.
    6. To perform, bring forth (a magical spell or enchantment).
    7. To throw (light etc.) on or upon something, or in a given direction.
      • 1950, "A Global View", Time, 24 Apr 1950:The threat of Russian barbarism sweeping over the free world will cast its ominous shadow over us for many, many years..
      • 1960, Lawrence Durrell, Clea:A sudden thought cast a gloom over his countenance.
    8. (obsolete) To plan, intend. 14th-19th c.
      • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte Darthur, Book VII.2:"Fayre damesell, I thanke you hartely," seyde Sir Launcelot, "but truly," seyde he, "I caste me never to be wedded man."
      • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, II.i:I wrapt my selfe in Palmers weed,
        And cast to seeke him forth through daunger and great dreed.
      • Sir W. TempleThe cloister ... had, I doubt not, been cast for orange-house.
    9. (obsolete except in set phrases) To remove, take off (clothes). from 14th c.
      • 1822, "Life of Donald McBane", Blackwood's Magazine, vol. 12, p. 745:when the serjeant saw me, he cast his coat and put it on me, and they carried me on their shoulders to a village where the wounded were and our surgeons ...
      • 2002, Jess Cartner-Morley, "How to Wear Clothes", The Guardian, 2 Mar 02:You know the saying, "Ne'er cast a clout till May is out"? Well, personally, I'm bored of my winter clothes by March.
    10. Specifically, to throw down or aside. from 15th c.
      • Spenser Faerie Queene, II.xii:So she to Guyon offred it to tast;
        Who taking it out of her tender hond,
        The cup to ground did violently cast,
        That all in peeces it was broken fond ...
      • 1611, The Bible, Authorized Version, Matthew VI.30:it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
      • 1930, "Sidar the Madman", Time, 19 Dec 1930:Near Puerto Limon, Costa Rica, Madman, co-pilot and plane were caught in a storm, cast into the Caribbean, drowned.
      • 2009, Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall, Fourth Estate 2010, p. 316:Her bow is not to her liking. In a temper, she casts it on the grass.
    11. (of an animal) To throw off (the skin) as a process of growth; to shed the hair or fur of the coat. from 15th c.
    12. (archaic) To give birth to (a child) prematurely; to miscarry. from 15th c.
      • 1603, John Florio, translating Michel de Montaigne, Folio Society 2006, vol. 1 p. 98:being with childe, they may without feare of accusation, spoyle and cast their children, with certaine medicaments, which they have only for that purpose.
      • 1646, Sir Thomas Browne, Pseudodoxia Epidemica, V.20:The abortion of a woman they describe by an horse kicking a wolf; because a mare will cast her foal if she tread in the track of that animal.
    13. To shape (molten metal etc.) by pouring into a mould; to make (an object) in such a way. from 15th c.
      • 1923, "Rodin's Death", Time, 24 Mar 1923:One copy of the magnificent caveman, The Thinker, of which Rodin cast several examples in bronze, is seated now in front of the Detroit Museum of Art, where it was placed last autumn.
    14. To twist or warp (of fabric, timber etc.). from 16th c.
      • MoxonStuff is said to cast or warp when ... it alters its flatness or straightness.
    15. To assign a role in a play or performance. from 18th c.The director cast the part carefully.
    16. (nautical) To bring the bows of a sailing ship on to the required tack just as the anchor is weighed by use of the headsail; to bring (a ship) round. from 18th c.
    17. To deposit (a ballot or voting paper); to formally register (one's vote). from 19th c.
    18. (computing) To change a variable type from, for example, integer to real, or integer to text. from 20th c.Casting is generally an indication of bad design.
    19. (hunting) Of dogs, hunters: to spread out and search for a scent. from 18th c.
      • 1955, William Golding, The Inheritors, Faber and Faber 2005, p. 50:He clambered on to an apron of rock that held its area out to the sun and began to cast across it. The direction of the wind changed and the scent touched him again.
    20. (nautical) To heave the lead and line in order to ascertain the depth of water.
    21. (medicine) To set (a bone etc.) in a cast.
    22. (Wicca) To open a circle in order to begin a spell or meeting of witches
    23. To consider; to turn or revolve in the mind; to plan.to cast about for reasons
      • Bible, Luke i. 29She ... cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
    24. (obsolete) To vomit.
      • Ben JonsonThese verses ... make me ready to cast.
    25. (archaic) To throw up, as a mound, or rampart.
      • Bible, Luke xix. 48Thine enemies shall cast a trench bank about thee.
    26. (archaic) To throw out or emit; to exhale.
      • WoodwardThis ... casts a sulphureous smell.
    27. (archaic) To impose; to bestow; to rest.
      • ShakespeareThe government I cast upon my brother.
      • Bible, Psalms iv. 22Cast thy burden upon the Lord.
    28. (archaic) To defeat in a lawsuit; to decide against; to convict.to be cast in damages
      • JeffreyShe was cast to be hanged.
      • Dr. H. MoreWere the case referred to any competent judge, they would inevitably be cast.
    29. To turn (the balance or scale); to overbalance; hence, to make preponderate; to decide.a casting voice
      • SouthHow much interest casts the balance in cases dubious!
    30. (printing, dated) To stereotype or electrotype.



    (plural casts)
    1. An act of throwing.
    2. Something which has been thrown, dispersed etc.
      • Drydena cast of dreadful dust
    3. A small mass of earth "thrown off" or excreted by a worm.The area near the stream was covered with little bubbly worm casts.''
    4. The collective group of actors performing a play or production together. Contrasted with crew.He’s in the cast of Oliver.The cast was praised for a fine performance.
    5. The casting procedure.The men got into position for the cast, two at the ladle, two with long rods, all with heavy clothing.
    6. An object made in a mould.The cast would need a great deal of machining to become a recognizable finished part.
    7. A supportive and immobilising device used to help mend broken bones.The doctor put a cast on the boy’s broken arm.
    8. The mould used to make cast objectsA plaster cast was made of his face.
    9. (hawking) The number of hawks (or occasionally other birds) cast off at one time; a pair.
      • 1596, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, VI.7:As when a cast of Faulcons make their flight
        An an Herneshaw, that lyes aloft on wing .
    10. A squint.
      • 1847, John Churchill, A manual of the principles and practice of ophthalmic medicine and surgery, p. 389, paragraph 1968:The image of the affected eye is clearer and in consequence the diplopy more striking the less the cast of the eye; hence the double vision will be noticed by the patient before the misdirection of the eye attracts the attention of those about him.
      • 2011, Thomas Penn, Winter King, Penguin 2012, p. 7:Arriving in Brittany, the Woodville exiles found a sallow young man, with dark hair curled in the shoulder-length fashion of the time and a penchant for expensively dyed black clothes, whose steady gaze was made more disconcerting by a cast in his left eye – such that while one eye looked at you, the other searched for you.
    11. Visual appearance.Her features had a delicate cast to them.
      • Photojournalism: The Professional's Approach
      • The Australian's Housekeeper Bride
    12. The form of one's thoughts, mind etc.
      • 1992, Hilary Mantel, A Place of Greater Safety, Harper Perennial 2007, p. 330:I have read all her articles and come to admire both her elegant turn of phrase and the noble cast of mind which inspires it; but never, I confess, did I look to see beauty and wit so perfectly united.
    13. An animal, especially a horse, that is unable to rise without assistance.
    14. Animal and insect remains which have been regurgitated by a bird.
    15. A group of crabs.

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