Definition of Mandaean in English:


(also Mandean)


  • 1A member of a Gnostic sect of Iraq and SW Iran, who regard John the Baptist as the Messiah and stress salvation through knowledge of the divine origin of the soul.

    • ‘Note that the Mandeans were followers of the ‘mystery’ doctrines of the Babylonian goddess, Ishtar of Babylon.’
    • ‘Mandeans follow purity laws similar to those in Judaism.’
    • ‘However, in recent years, many young educated Mandaeans have entered the priesthood.’
    • ‘Most of the world's 20,000 or so Mandeans live in southern Iraq and southwestern Iran.’
    • ‘Not surprisingly, a number of Mandaeans have fled to Australia, where they're not finding life a lot easier.’
    • ‘The Government has informed the tribunal that Mandaeans are discriminated against but not persecuted.’
    • ‘In fact, Mandeans are neither Christian nor Muslim nor Jewish, but their faith bears some similarities to each.’
    • ‘It gives an account of the author's visit to the Mandaeans of Iran in April 1996.’
    • ‘There is even a group of Mandaeans: theirs is a tiny Gnostic sect.’
    • ‘This is the moment when the Mandaeans believe that the soul is separated from the body.’
  • 2[mass noun] The language of the Mandaeans, a form of Aramaic.


  • Relating to the Mandaeans or their language.

    • ‘In present Mandean tradition, it must be performed by women after menstruation and after childbirth.’
    • ‘At Yardenit in Israel, there is a major baptism site on the river which attracts Greek and Russian Orthodox Pilgrims and the Mandean people of the only surviving Gnostic religion.’
    • ‘Jews, Christians, even the Mandaean gnostic sect of the Sabeans, are all granted freedom to practice and to live in peace.’
    • ‘Even in modern day Sydney, Aramaic dialects are used by the local Assyrian and Mandaean communities.’
    • ‘Our correspondent Angus Crawford travelled with a Mandean doctor to find out what has happened to her people.’


Late 19th century: from Mandaean Aramaic mandaia Gnostics, those who have knowledge (from manda knowledge) + -an.