- See under mandarin(def 5).
- (in the Chinese Empire) a member of any of the nine ranks of public officials, each distinguished by a particular kind of button worn on the cap.
- (initial capital letter) the standard Chinese language.
- (initial capital letter) a northern Chinese dialect, especially as spoken in and around Beijing.
- a small, spiny citrus tree, Citrus reticulata, native to China, bearing lance-shaped leaves and flattish, orange-yellow to deep-orange loose-skinned fruit, some varieties of which are called tangerines.
- any of several plants belonging to the genus Disporum or Streptopus, of the lily family, as S. roseus (rose mandarin) or D. lanuginosum (yellow mandarin), having drooping flowers and red berries.
- an influential or powerful government official or bureaucrat.
- a member of an elite or powerful group or class, as in intellectual or cultural milieus: the mandarins of the art world.
- of or relating to a mandarin or mandarins.
- elegantly refined, as in language or taste.
Origin of mandarin
- (in the Chinese Empire) a member of any of the nine senior grades of the bureaucracy, entered by examinations
- a high-ranking official whose powers are extensive and thought to be outside political control
- a person of standing and influence, as in literary or intellectual circles
- a small citrus tree, Citrus nobilis, cultivated for its edible fruit
- the fruit of this tree, resembling the tangerine
Word Origin for mandarin
"Chinese official," 1580s, via Portuguese mandarim or older Dutch mandorijn from Malay mantri, from Hindi mantri "councilor, minister of state," from Sanskrit mantri, nominative of mantrin- "advisor," from mantra "counsel," from PIE root *men- "to think" (see mind (n.)).
Form influenced in Portuguese by mandar "to command, order." Used generically for the several grades of Chinese officials; sense of "chief dialect of Chinese" (spoken by officials and educated people) is from c.1600. Transferred sense of "important person" attested by 1907. The type of small, deep-colored orange so called from 1771, from resemblance of its color to that of robes worn by mandarins.