Definition of Menshevik in US English:



  • A member of the moderate non-Leninist wing of the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party, opposed to the Bolsheviks and defeated by them after the overthrow of the tsar in 1917.

    • ‘A moderate socialist, he enjoyed the support of the Mensheviks, though he never joined the party.’
    • ‘A strong Social Democrat Party of Mensheviks emerged in Georgia in the early 20th century, which formed a brief republic, under British protection.’
    • ‘Here he is referring to the revolutionary socialist party which was split between the Mensheviks on the right and the Bolsheviks on the left.’
    • ‘It was June 1917 and Kerensky had formed a provisional government that included the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries - but also representatives of the capitalist parties such as the Cadets.’
    • ‘Riots and demonstrations broke out through the cities and on March 15, 1917 Czar Nicholas III gave up his throne to a provisional government mostly lead by Mensheviks.’


  • Relating to or characteristic of Mensheviks or Menshevism.

    • ‘The newspaper appeared in early 1917 as the organ of the Petersburg Soviet, then dominated by the Social Revolutionary and Menshevik parties, i.e., as the organ of petty-bourgeois democracy.’
    • ‘In fact the issues go back 100 years to the split in 1903 between the Bolshevik and Menshevik tendencies in the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party.’
    • ‘For most of the period from 1903 to 1917, Trotsky stood outside the Bolshevik and Menshevik factions of the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party, often spearheading attempts to bring the two factions together.’


From Russian Menʹshevik ‘a member of the minority’, from menʹshe ‘less’. Lenin coined the name at a time when the party was (untypically) in a temporary minority.