Entries linking to classroom
c. 1600, "group of students," in U.S. especially "number of pupils in a school or college of the same grade," from French classe (14c.), from Latin classis "a class, a division; army, fleet," especially "any one of the six orders into which Servius Tullius divided the Roman people for the purpose of taxation;" traditionally originally "the people of Rome under arms" (a sense attested in English from 1650s), and thus akin to calare "to call (to arms)," from PIE root *kele- (2) "to shout." In early use in English also in Latin form classis.
Meaning "an order or rank of persons, a number of persons having certain characteristics in common" is from 1660s. School and university sense of "course, lecture" (1650s) is from the notion of a form or lecture reserved to scholars who had attained a certain level. Natural history sense "group of related plants or animals" is from 1753. Meaning "high quality" is from 1874. Meaning "a division of society according to status" (with upper, lower, etc.) is from 1763. Class-consciousness (1903) is from German Klassenbewusst.
The fault, the evil, in a class society is when privilege exists without responsibility and duty. The evil of the classless society is that it tends to equalize the responsibility, to atomize it into responsibility of the whole population—and therefore everyone becomes equally irresponsible. [T.S. Eliot, BBC interview with Leslie Paul, 1958]
Middle English roum, from Old English rum "space, extent; sufficient space, fit occasion (to do something)," from Proto-Germanic *ruman (source also of Old Norse, Old Saxon, Old High German, Gothic rum, German Raum "space," Dutch ruim "hold of a ship, nave"), nouns formed from Germanic adjective *ruma- "roomy, spacious," from PIE root *reue- (1) "to open; space" (source also of Avestan ravah- "space," Latin rus "open country," Old Irish roi, roe "plain field," Old Church Slavonic ravinu "level," Russian ravnina "a plain").
Old English also had a frequent adjective rum "roomy, wide, long, spacious," also an adverb, rumlice "bigly, corpulently" (Middle English roumli).
The meaning "chamber, cabin" is recorded by early 14c. as a nautical term; applied by mid-15c. to interior division of a building separated by walls or partitions; the Old English word for this was cofa, ancestor of cove. The sense of "persons assembled in a room" is by 1712.
Make room "open a passage, make way" is from mid-15c. Room-service is attested from 1913; room-temperature, comfortable for the occupants of a room, is so called from 1879. Roomth "sufficient space" (1530s, with -th (2)) now is obsolete.
updated on December 16, 2017