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 ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.