In imperial China, a public official drawn from the ranks of the lesser officeholders who had achieved success in the Chinese examination system. The word comes from the Portuguese version of the Malay term for a minister of state. It has come to mean a pedantic official, a bureaucrat, or a person of position and influence (and usually a traditionalist or reactionary mindset) in intellectual or literary circles. The Mandarin language is the most widely spoken of the Chinese languages.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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