a member of a Palestinian sect, consisting mainly of priests and aristocrats, that flourished from the 1st century b.c. to the 1st century a.d. and differed from the Pharisees chiefly in its literal interpretation of the Bible, rejection of oral laws and traditions, and denial of an afterlife and the coming of the Messiah.
O.E., from L.L. Sadducaei (pl.), from Gk. Zaddoukaios, from Heb. tzedoqi, from personal name Tzadhoq "Zadok" (2 Sam. viii:17), the high priest from whom the priesthood of the captivity claimed descent. According to Josephus, the sect denied the resurrection of the dead and the existence of angels and spirits; but later historians regard them as more the political party of the priestly class than a sect per se.