melkites. A name given to those Christians who adhered to the creed supported by the authority of the Byzantine emperor. Derived from the Greek form of a Syriac adjective, it means “royalists, emperor's men.” It was coined by the Jacobites in the tenth century and implies they could only stand with the emperor's support. It was applied to Christians of Syria and Egypt who rejected Monophysitism* and Nestorianism,* accepted the decrees of Ephesus and Chalcedon, and remained in communion with the imperial see of Constantinople.

The term applied also to Arabic-speaking Catholics of the Byzantine Rite in Syria, Palestine, Egypt, etc. They were organized from 1724 when Cyril Taras, a Catholic, became patriarch of Antioch.