• synonyms


[ en-sik-li-kuh l, -sahy-kli- ]
/ ɛnˈsɪk lɪ kəl, -ˈsaɪ klɪ- /


Roman Catholic Church. a letter addressed by the pope to all the bishops of the church.


(of a letter) intended for wide or general circulation; general.

Nearby words

enculturation, encumber, encumbrance, encumbrancer, ency., encyclical, encyclopaedia, encyclopedia, encyclopedic, encyclopedism, encyclopedist
Also en·cyc·lic.

Origin of encyclical

1610–20; < Late Latin encyclicus (< Greek enkýklios, with -icus -ic for -ios, equivalent to en- en-2 + kýkl(os) circle, cycle + -ios adj. suffix) + -al1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for encyclical


/ (ɛnˈsɪklɪkəl) /


a letter sent by the pope to all Roman Catholic bishops throughout the world

adjective Also: encyclic

(of letters) intended for general or wide circulation

Word Origin for encyclical

C17: from Late Latin encyclicus, from Greek enkuklios general, from kuklos circle
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

Word Origin and History for encyclical



in reference to a letter sent by the Pope to all the bishops, 1640s, from Late Latin encyclicus, from Latin encyclius, from Greek enkyklios "in a circle, circular" (see encyclopedia). As a noun, from 1837.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Culture definitions for encyclical


[ (en-sik-li-kuhl) ]

A letter from the pope to the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church, in which he lays down policy on religious, moral, or political issues.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.