August 09, 2016
- mandarin (noun)
- What does it mean?
- 1 : a public official under the Chinese Empire2 capitalized : the chief dialect of China centering around Beijing3 : a small spiny Chinese orange tree with yellow to reddish orange fruits having loose rinds; also : its fruit
- How do you use it?
- The museum's exhibit of Asian clothing featured a suit of armor once worn by a samurai from Japan and an elaborate silk robe worn by a mandarin from China.
- Are you a word wiz?
The word "mandarin" traces back to the ancient language of Sanskrit, but English took it from a different language. From which of these languages do you think English took "mandarin"?"Mandarin" was borrowed into English in the late 1500s from the Portuguese word "mandarim." During that period in history, known as the Age of Exploration, Portuguese navigators picked up words from languages all over the world. They took their word for "mandarin" from Malay, a language spoken in areas of southeast Asia. Malay in turn took it from Sanskrit, the ancient language of India. It derived from the Sanskrit word "mantra," meaning "counsel." This makes sense, since as a prominent person in the government, a mandarin was expected to provide counsel to the emperor in running affairs of state.