1530s, "state or condition of being smaller," a sense now obsolete, from French minorité (15c.), or directly from Medieval Latin minoritatem (nominative minoritas), from Latin minor "less, lesser, smaller, junior" (see minor (adj.)).
Meaning "state of being under legal age" is from 1540s; that of "smaller number or part, smaller of two aggregates into which a whole is divided numerically" is from 1736. Specifically as "the smaller division of any whole number of persons" (in politics, etc.) is by 1789. The meaning "group of people separated from the rest of a community by race, religion, language, etc." is from 1919, originally in an Eastern European context.
1907, from Russian men'shevik, from men'she "lesser" (comparative of malo "little," from PIE root *mei- (2) "small") + -evik "one that is." So called by Lenin because they were a minority in the party. The Russian word was used earlier in reference to the minority faction of the Social-Democratic Party when it split in 1903. See Bolshevik. As a noun from 1917. Russian plural mensheviki occasionally was used in English. Related: Menshevism; Menshevist.
"different in kind, not alike, essentially different," late 14c., a specialized use of divers (q.v.), in some cases probably directly from Latin diversus "turned different ways." In Middle English it also could mean "disagreeable, unkind, hostile" (mid-14c.). The differentiation in spelling (perhaps by analogy with converse, traverse, etc.) and meaning prevailed after c. 1700. The sense of "including and promoting persons of previously under-represented minority identities" is from 1990s. Related: Diversely.
late 14c., protectour, "a defender, guardian, one who defends or shields from injury or evil," from Old French protector (14c., Modern French protecteur) and directly from Late Latin protector, agent noun from protegere (see protection). Related: Protectoral; protectorial; protectorian. Fem. forms protectrix, protectryse both attested from mid-15c. Protectee is attested from c. 1600.
In English history, "one who has care of the kingdom during the king's minority or incapacity, a regent" (as the Duke of Somerset during the reign of Edward VI); Lord Protector was the title of the head of the executive during part of the period of the Commonwealth, held by Oliver Cromwell (1653-58) and Richard Cromwell (1658-59).
The branch of Islam that recognizes Ali, Muhammad's son-in-law, as the lawful successor of the Prophet; the minority who believed, after the death of the Prophet, that spiritual and political authority followed his family line, as opposed to the Sunni, who took Abu Bakr as the political leader of the community. The Arabic name is short for Shi'at Ali "the party of Ali."
1828, noun and adjective, in reference to a seceding group of American Quakers, from the name of their spiritual leader, Elias Hicks. The remainder of the profession (the minority numerically) were known as Orthodox Friends. The schism occurred in 1827 at the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. The surname is from Hick, popular pet form of Richard.
About the only way I can tell whether a particular Meeting was Orthodox or Hicksite has to do with clocks and pianos. If these — particularly a clock — are present, that Meeting was Hicksite. If not, it was Orthodox. [Francis G. Brown, "Downingtown Friends Meeting," 1999]