Appears in
Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

mandarin was originally no more than a nickname given to a small, loose-skinned orange-like fruit, Citrus reticulata, which was brought to England from China in 1805. The word also denotes a Chinese official or the form of Chinese spoken by such officials and other educated people. However, it is not a Chinese word (their word for official is kwan), but came to English through the Portuguese form (mandarin) of a Malay word for ‘counsellor’ (mantri), itself derived through Hindi from the Sanskrit mantrin, also meaning counsellor and based on the root man which means ‘to think’.