|1.||a member of a Roman Catholic religious order (the Society of Jesus) founded by Saint Ignatius Loyola in 1534 with the aims of defending the papacy and Catholicism against the Reformation and to undertake missionary work among the heathen|
|2.||informal, offensive (sometimes not capital) a person given to subtle and equivocating arguments; casuist|
|[C16: from New Latin Jēsuita, from Late Latin Jēsus + -ita|
A religious order of men in the Roman Catholic Church; its official name is the Society of Jesus. Founded by Ignatius of Loyola in the sixteenth century, the society became the spearhead of the Counter Reformation.
Note: The Jesuit order has a long tradition of vigorous missionary work and of intellectual and scholarly achievement. The Jesuits have also been known historically for their influence, often behind the scenes, in European politics and for their skill and resourcefulness in debate — characteristics that have sometimes led people to mistrust them. In recent years, they have become better known as free-ranging thinkers on religious and political questions.