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."

Primary Meanings of mandarin

a high public official of imperial China
a somewhat flat reddish-orange loose skinned citrus of China
Full Definitions of mandarin

n a high public official of imperial China

Type of:
a native or inhabitant of Communist China or of Nationalist China

n any high government official or bureaucrat

Type of:
functionary, official
a worker who holds or is invested with an office

n a member of an elite intellectual or cultural group

Type of:
someone who believes in rule by an elite group

n a somewhat flat reddish-orange loose skinned citrus of China

mandarin orange
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

n 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

Citrus reticulata, mandarin orange, mandarin orange tree
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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