Etymology
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cast (n.)

mid-13c., "a throw, an act of throwing," from cast (v.). In early use especially of dice, hence figurative uses relating to fortune or fate. Meaning "that which is cast" is from mid-15c. Meaning "dash or shade of color" is from c. 1600.

The sense of "a throw" carried an idea of "the form the thing takes after it has been thrown," which led to widespread and varied meanings, such as "group of actors in a play" (1630s). OED finds 42 distinct noun meaning and 83 verbal ones, with many sub-definitions. Many of the figurative senses converged in a general meaning "sort, kind, style" (mid-17c.). Meaning "model made from taking an impression of an object" is from c. 1500. A cast in the eye "slight squint" (early 14c.) preserves the older verbal sense of "warp, turn," via the notion of "permanent motion or turn." As "plaster molded around an injured or diseased part," by 1883.

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cast (v.)

c. 1200, "to throw, throw violently, fling, hurl," from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse kasta "to throw" (cognate with Swedish kasta, Danish kaste, North Frisian kastin), of uncertain origin. Meaning "to form in a mold" is late 15c. In the sense of "to throw" it replaced Old English weorpan (see warp (v.)), and itself largely has been superseded now by throw, though cast still is used of fishing lines (17c.) and glances (13c.).

From c. 1300 as "emit, give out;" also "throw to the ground;" also "shed or throw off;" also "calculate, find by reckoning; chart (a course)." From late 14c. as "to calculate astrologically." From late 15c. as "bring forth abortively or prematurely." From 1711 as "distribute the parts (of a play) among the actors." Of votes from 1840, American English. To cast up is from 1530s as "compute, reckon," late 15c. as "eject, vomit."

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cast-off (adj.)

1709, "put aside, rejected," from verbal phrase cast off "discard, reject" (c. 1400), from cast (v.) + off (adv.). From 1741 as a noun, "person or thing abandoned as worthless or useless." Related" Cast-offs.

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cast-iron (n.)

1660s, cast iron, from iron (n.) + cast (adj.) "made by melting and being left to harden in a mold" (1530s), past-participle adjective from cast (v.) in its sense "to throw something (in a particular way)," c. 1300, especially "form metal into a shape by pouring it molten" (1510s). From 1690s as an adjective, "made of cast-iron;" figurative sense of "inflexible, unyielding" is from 1830.

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precast (adj.)

of concrete, "formed by casting before being set in place," 1914; see pre- + cast (v.).

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caster (n.2)

"small wheel and swivel attached to the leg of a piece of furniture," 1748, agent noun from cast (v.) in the old sense of "turn." Also sometimes castor.

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caster (n.1)

also sometimes castor, "person or thing that casts," late 14c., agent noun from cast (v.). Meaning "pepper shaker, small perforated container" is from 1670s, on notion of "throwing" the powder, liquid, etc., when needed.

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castaway (n.)

late 15c., "one who is rejected," from the verbal phrase "to reject, dismiss" (c. 1300, literal and figurative), from cast (v.) + away (adv.). Specific sense "one adrift at sea" is from 1799. The adjective is first recorded 1540s.

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overcast (adj.)

c. 1300, of weather, "covered or overspread with clouds," past-participle adjective from verb overcast (early 13c.), "to place something over or across," also "to cover, to overspread" as with a garment, but usually of clouds, darkness (also "to knock down"), from over- + cast (v.).

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miscast (v.)

late 14c., "to cast (a glance, an 'eye') with evil intent" see mis- (1) + cast (v.). Meaning "to reckon erroneously" is from 1590s. Theatrical sense of "to place an actor in an unsuitable roll" is recorded from 1927. Related: Miscasting.

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