Use the noun mandarin when you're talking about a powerful member of a government, company, or cultural group. In other words, don't mess with the mandarin.

You can use mandarin to mean "bureaucrat," or an official who tends to make things complicated and who wields a lot of power. Another kind of mandarin is a respected cultural or academic figure: "My favorite philosophy professor is considered a mandarin on campus." Mandarin with a capital "M" refers to the language spoken in China. Originally, this word meant simply "Chinese official," from the Hindi root word mantrī, "counselor."

Definitions of mandarin
  1. noun
    a high public official of imperial China
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    type of:
    a native or inhabitant of Communist China or of Nationalist China
  2. noun
    any high government official or bureaucrat
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    type of:
    functionary, official
    a worker who holds or is invested with an office
  3. noun
    a member of an elite intellectual or cultural group
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    type of:
    someone who believes in rule by an elite group
  4. noun
    a somewhat flat reddish-orange loose skinned citrus of China
    synonyms: mandarin orange
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    a mandarin orange of a deep reddish orange color and few seeds
    medium-sized largely seedless mandarin orange with thin smooth skin
    any of various deep orange mandarins grown in the United States and southern Africa
    type of:
    citrous fruit, citrus, citrus fruit
    any of numerous fruits of the genus Citrus having thick rind and juicy pulp; grown in warm regions
  5. noun
    shrub or small tree having flattened globose fruit with very sweet aromatic pulp and thin yellow-orange to flame-orange rind that is loose and easily removed; native to southeastern Asia
    synonyms: Citrus reticulata, mandarin orange, mandarin orange tree
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    tangerine, tangerine tree
    a variety of mandarin orange
    clementine, clementine tree
    a variety of mandarin orange that is grown around the Mediterranean and in South Africa
    satsuma, satsuma tree
    a variety of mandarin orange
    type of:
    citrus, citrus tree
    any of numerous tropical usually thorny evergreen trees of the genus Citrus having leathery evergreen leaves and widely cultivated for their juicy edible fruits having leathery aromatic rinds
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