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  1. pertaining to, of the nature of, or containing a decree or decrees.
  1. a papal decree authoritatively determining some point of doctrine or church law.
  2. Decretals, the body or collection of such decrees as a part of the canon law.

Origin of decretal

1350–1400; Middle English < Old French < Late Latin dēcrētālis fixed by decree, equivalent to dēcrēt(um) decree + -ālis -al1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for decretals

Historical Examples

  • The decretals of the Roman Pontiffs were seized for this holy purpose.

    The Rise of the Mediaeval Church

    Alexander Clarence Flick

  • His commentaries on the decretals were frequently reprinted.

  • Their son, Gaspard Calderino, wrote a commentary on the decretals.

  • According to the medieval canon law, based on the decretals, and codified in the 13th century in the Roman Catholic Church.

  • The archbishops eagerly accepted the decretals because they hoped to profit by their doctrines.

    The Rise of the Mediaeval Church

    Alexander Clarence Flick

British Dictionary definitions for decretals


pl n
  1. RC Church a compilation of decretals, esp the authoritative compilation (Liber Extra) of Gregory IX (1234) which forms part of the Corpus Juris Canonici


  1. RC Church a papal edict on doctrine or church law
  1. of or relating to a decretal or a decree
Derived Formsdecretalist, noun

Word Origin

C15: from Old French, from Late Latin dēcrētālis; see decree
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

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