see also: Mandarin
  • IPA: /ˈmæn.də.ɹɪn/

mandarin (plural mandarins)

  1. (historical) a high government bureaucrat of the Chinese Empire [from 1580s]
  2. a pedantic or elitist bureaucrat
  3. (often, pejorative) a pedantic senior person of influence in academia or literary circles
    • 1966, [,9171,899186-1,00.html "The Beauty of His Malice"], Time:
      Its sting preserved to literature a fierce peculiar genius [Waugh] who, in the 40 years before his death last week at 62, achieved recognition as the grand old mandarin of modern British prose and as a satirist whose skill at sticking pens in people rates him a roomy cell in the murderers’ row (Swift, Pope, Wilde, Shaw) of English letters.
  4. (ornithology) Ellipsis of mandarin duck#English|mandarin duck
  5. (informal, British) a senior civil servant
Translations Adjective


  1. pertaining to or reminiscent of mandarins; deliberately superior or complex; esoteric, highbrow, obscurantist [from 20th c.]
    • 1979, John Le Carré, Smiley's People, Folio Society 2010, p. 58:
      A mandarin impassivity had descended over Smiley's face. The earlier emotion was quite gone.
    • 2007, Marina Warner, ‘Doubly Damned’, London Review of Books 29:3, p. 26:
      Though alert to riddles' strong roots in vernacular narrative, Cook's tastes are mandarin, and she gives a loving account of Wallace Stevens's meditations on the life of poetic images and simile […].

mandarin (plural mandarins)

  1. Ellipsis of mandarin orange#English|mandarin orange:
    1. a small, sweet citrus fruit
    2. tree of species Citrus reticulata
  2. (color) an orange colour

  • (America, RP) IPA: /ˈmæn.də.ɹɪn/

mandarin (uncountable)

  1. Standard Mandarin, an official language of China and Taiwan, and one of four official languages in Singapore; Putonghua, Guoyu or Huayu
    • Far fewer people understood Mandarin in Hotan than anywhere else I'd been in Xinjiang. It made getting around difficult, as not only did the taxi drivers fail to understand what I was saying, but they couldn't read an address either. Most ignored or didn't know the Chinese names given to the streets anyway.
  2. A branch of the Chinese languages, consisting of many dialects; Guanhua or Beifanghua.
Synonyms Translations Translations
  • Russian: мандари́н

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