(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 pertaining to a mandarin or mandarins.
elegantly refined, as in language or taste.

1580–90; < Portuguese mandarim, alteration (by association with mandar to order) of Malay məntəri < Hindi mantrī, Sanskrit mantrin councilor Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
mandarin (ˈmændərɪn)
1.  (in the Chinese Empire) a member of any of the nine senior grades of the bureaucracy, entered by examinations
2.  a high-ranking official whose powers are extensive and thought to be outside political control
3.  a person of standing and influence, as in literary or intellectual circles
4.  a.  a small citrus tree, Citrus nobilis, cultivated for its edible fruit
 b.  the fruit of this tree, resembling the tangerine
[C16: from Portuguese mandarim, via Malay menteri from Sanskrit mantrin counsellor, from mantra counsel]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

"Chinese official," 1589, via Port. mandarim or Du. mandorijn from Malay mantri, from Hindi mantri "councilor, minister of state," from Skt. mantri, nom. of mantrin- "advisor," from mantra "counsel," from PIE base *men- "to think" (see mind). Form infl. in Port. 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 1604. The type of small, deep-colored orange so called from 1771, from resemblance of its color to that of robes worn by mandarins.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Mandarins were given fifty-eight days off during the year to celebrate
  twenty-eight holidays.
Chu nom was the script of the mandarins and literati.
Politicians may come and go but the mandarins remain.
Most senior mandarins have spent their careers as policy advisers to ministers,
  not as operational managers.
Related Words
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