- a member of the Russian Social-Democratic Workers' Party in opposition to the Bolsheviks: advocated gradual development of full socialism through parliamentary government and cooperation with bourgeois parties; absorbed into the Communist party formed in 1918.
1917, from Rus. men'shevik, from men'she "lesser" (comp. of malo "little," from PIE base *men- "to lessen, diminish") + -evik "one that is." So called by Lenin because they were a minority in the party. Earlier used in ref. to the minority faction of the Social-Democratic Party, when it split in 1903. Russian pl. mensheviki occasionally was used in Eng.
"Maybe this was the main reason Mike was later to tell me, in reference to the 2016 presidential election and only half jokingly, that he could never bring himself to vote for the menshevik (Hillary Clinton) or the bolshevik (Bernie Sanders)."
- Arlie Russell Hochschild, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right