1. One of a religious order founded by Ignatius Loyola, and approved in 1540, under the title of The Society of Jesus.
The order consists of Scholastics, the Professed, the Spiritual Coadjutors, and the temporal Coadjutors or lay brothers. The jesuit novice after two years becomes a scholastic, and takes his first vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience simply. Some years after, at the close of a second novitiate, he takes his second vows and is ranked among the Coadjutors or Professed. The Professed are bound by a fourth vow, from which only the pope can dispense, requiring them to go wherever the pope may send them for missionary duty. The Coadjutors teach in the schools, and are employed in general missionary labors. The Society is governed by a general who holds office for life. He has associated with him Assistants (five at the present time), representing different provinces. The Society was first established in the united states in 1807. The jesuits have displayed in their enterprises a high degree of zeal, learning, and skill, but, by their enemies, have been generally reputed to use art and intrigue in promoting or accomplishing their purposes, whence the words jesuit, Jesuitical, and the like, have acquired an opprobrious sense.
2. A crafty person; an intriguer. Jesuits bark, peruvian bark, or the bark of certain species of Cinchona; so called because its medicinal properties were first made known in Europe by jesuit missionaries to south America. Jesuits drops. See friars balsam, under friar. Jesuits nut, the European water chestnut. Jesuits powder, powdered cinchona bark. Jesuits tea, a Chilian leguminous shrub, used as a tea and medicinally.
Origin: f. Jesuite, sp. Jesuita: cf. It. Gesuita.