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noun, plural pa·pa·cies. Roman Catholic Church.
  1. the office, dignity, or jurisdiction of the pope.
  2. the system of ecclesiastical government in which the pope is recognized as the supreme head.
  3. the period during which a certain pope is in office.
  4. the succession or line of the popes.
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Origin of papacy

1350–1400; Middle English papacie < Medieval Latin pāpātia. See pope, -acy
Related formsan·ti·pa·pa·cy, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for papacy


noun plural -cies
  1. the office or term of office of a pope
  2. the system of government in the Roman Catholic Church that has the pope as its head
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Word Origin

C14: from Medieval Latin pāpātia, from pāpa pope 1
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 papacy


late 14c., from Medieval Latin papatia "papal office," from Late Latin papa "pope" (see pope). Old English had papdom in this sense.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

papacy in Culture


The office or position of the pope.

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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.