a member of the Russian Social-Democratic Workers' Party in opposition to the Bolsheviks: advocated gradual development of full socialism through parliamentary government and cooperation with bourgeois parties; absorbed into the Communist party formed in 1918.
1905-10; < Russianmenʾshevík, equivalent to ménʾsh(iĭ) lesser (comparative of málenʾkiĭ small; compare menʾshinstvó minority) + -evik, variant of -ovik noun suffix
1917, from Rus. men'shevik, from men'she "lesser" (comp. of malo "little," from PIE base *men- "to lessen, diminish") + -evik "one that is." So called by Lenin because they were a minority in the party. Earlier used in ref. to the minority faction of the Social-Democratic Party, when it split in 1903. Russian pl. mensheviki occasionally was used in Eng.