Definition of Manichaeism in US English:


(also Manicheism)


  • 1A dualistic religious system with Christian, Gnostic, and pagan elements, founded in Persia in the 3rd century by Manes (c.216–c.276). The system was based on a supposed primeval conflict between light and darkness. It spread widely in the Roman Empire and in Asia, and survived in eastern Turkestan (Xinjiang) until the 13th century.

    • ‘After abandoning Manicheism he turned to Neoplatism to elucidate his metaphysical thoughts about God.’
    • ‘Although it is often portrayed as a Christian heresy, Manicheism was in fact an independent religion.’
    • ‘For instance, unlike Christianity or Manichaeism, there is no historical founder in Mandaean tradition.’
    • ‘Gnosticism eventually declined and was replaced by Manichaeism, founded by Mani.’
    • ‘The kings converted to Manichaeism, the ‘religion of light’, imported by refugees from the Middle East.’
    1. 1.1 Religious or philosophical dualism.
      • ‘Central to its argument is the idea that the novel offers a critique of essentialism and Manicheism.’
      • ‘The possibility of attaining paradise lies, instead, in the deconstruction of Manicheism by means of the integration of opposites.’
      • ‘For gone is the implied but relatively crude Manichaeism of the earlier books.’
      • ‘With spiritual overtones, and an emphasis on an eternal struggle between equally matched forces of darkness and light, the films suggest a kind of pop-culture Manichaeism.’


Early 17th century: from late Latin Manichaeus (from the name Manes) + -ism.