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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ The rich man who deludes himself into behaving like a mendicant may conserve his fortune although he will not be very happy.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Mendicant \Men"di*cant\, a. [L. mendicans, -antis, p. pr. of mendicare to beg, fr. mendicus beggar, indigent.] Practicing beggary; begging; living on alms; as, mendicant friars.

Mendicant orders (R. C. Ch.), certain monastic orders which are forbidden to acquire landed property and are required to be supported by alms, esp. the Franciscans, the Dominicans, the Carmelites, and the Augustinians.


Mendicant \Men"di*cant\, n. A beggar; esp., one who makes a business of begging; specifically, a begging friar.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

late 14c., from Latin mendicantem (nominative mendicans) present participle of mendicare "to beg, ask alms," from mendicus "beggar," originally "cripple" (connection via cripples who must beg), from menda "fault, physical defect" (see mendacious). As an adjective from 1540s. Also in Middle English was mendinant (mid-14c.), from Old French mendinant, present participle of mendiner "to beg," from the same Latin source.


"a beggar," mid-15c., from mendicant (adj.) or from Latin mendicantem (nominative mendicans), noun use of present participle of mendicare.


a. 1 Depending on alms for a living. 2 Of or pertaining to a beggar. 3 Of or pertaining to a member of a religious order forbidden to own property, and who must beg for a living. n. 1 A pauper who lives by begging. 2 A religious friar, forbidden to own personal property, who begs for a living.

  1. adj. practicing beggary; "mendicant friars"

  2. n. a male member of a religious order that originally relied soley on alms [syn: friar]

  3. a pauper who lives by begging [syn: beggar]


A mendicant (from , "begging") is one who practises mendicancy ( begging) and relies chiefly or exclusively on charitable donations to survive. In principle, mendicant religious orders do not own property, either individually or collectively, and members have taken a vow of poverty, in order that all their time and energy could be expended on practicing or preaching and serving the poor. It is a form of asceticism.

Many religious orders adhere to a mendicant way of life, including the Catholic mendicant orders, Hindu ascetics, some dervishes of Sufi Islam, and the monastic orders of Jainism and Buddhism. In the Catholic Church, followers of Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Dominic became known as mendicants, as they would beg for food while they preached to the villages.

While mendicants are the original type of monks in Buddhism and have a long history in Indian Hinduism and the countries which adapted Indian religious traditions, they didn't become widespread in Christianity until the High Middle Ages. The Way of a Pilgrim depicts the life of an Eastern Christian mendicant.

Usage examples of "mendicant".

Even if they were no more than mendicants and anchorites, he would join them gladly, for surely they would accept him simply for what he was.

I have been told, most of them delivered as their opinion that the archbishop, although exiled, could still remain governor of the archbishopric, but no mendicant religious could act thus, as they were prohibited by law.

I was a mudlark with the voice of a mendicant, the soul of a thief, and the heart of a waterfront whore.

The ravanastron is a common instrument with the mendicant friars of this order.

Among them are many high-toned and respectable families, whose pride shrinks from begging for bread, and who now live a life of penury and starvation rather than become the mendicant.

It is true they are in many instances, reduced to penury, but in their poverty are as different from the mendicant as the good are from the bad.

Among some of the religious mendicants in India there were some who were condemned to a life of chastity, and, in the hotter climates, where nudity was the custom, these persons traveled about exposing an enormous preputial ring, which was looked upon with adoration by devout women.

Beggars sat by church doors asking for alms, mendicant friars begged bread for their orders or for the poor in prison, jongleurs performed stunts and magic in the plazas and recited satiric tales and narrative ballads of adventure in Saracen lands.

Humiliated, impoverished, cut off from his family, the young man had shaved his head and become a mendicant monk.

Occasionally you see a heathen from the sunny isles away down in the South Seas, with his face and neck tatooed till he looks like the customary mendicant from Washoe who has been blown up in a mine.

Swiftly as he went, however, he could not escape the curse of the four blessed evangelists which the mendicant howled behind him.

Among my headings under this one twelve months I find an account of the adventure of the Paradol Chamber, of the Amateur Mendicant Society, who held a luxurious club in the lower vault of a furniture warehouse, of the facts connected with the loss of the British bark Sophy Anderson, of the singular adventures of the Grice Patersons in the island of Uffa, and finally of the Camberwell poisoning case.

The guard uncuffed their wrists and left them and they squatted and leaned against the wall with their blankets about their shoulders like mendicants.

You will each carry a plate in your hands to solicit alms, and you must walk together about the ball-room as a band of mendicants.

Yes, all the homosexuals and the celibates and the Mendicants are part of it.