(noun) historically, a high government bureaucrat of the Chinese Empire OR a pedantic or elitist bureaucrat OR senior person of influence in academia or literary circles / (adj) deliberately superior or complex; esoteric, highbrow, obscurantist
the fiercely mandarin Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes
I knew it had something to do with Chinese bureaucrats but wasn't sure of the adjectival meaning
In an ecstasy of mandarin narcissism, you go further.
having culminated in the production of generations of left mandarins without the sophistication (or cultural capital) that the epithet mandarin once connoted
he suggested that the Institute would be an alternative to a German university system that served as a training academy for ‘mandarins’ who who would go on to uphold the status quo
a gathering of mandarins summoned hastily to discuss somebody's fine dream in a conference
university mandarins sign their names to publications for which their assistants provided the statistics