Definition of Manichaeism
- a dualistic religious system with Christian, Gnostic, and pagan elements, founded in Persia in the 3rd century by Manes (circa 216-circa 276). The system was based on a supposed primeval conflict between light and darkness. It spread widely in the Roman Empire and in Asia, and survived in eastern Turkestan (Xinjiang) until the 13th century.
early 17th century: from late Latin Manichaeus (from the name Manes: see above) + -ism