[ pon-tif ]
/ ˈpɒn tɪf /


any pontifex.
any high or chief priest.
  1. a bishop.
  2. the Roman Catholic pope, the Bishop of Rome.

Origin of pontiff

1600–10; earlier pontife < French, short for Latin pontifex pontifex
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Examples from the Web for pontiff

British Dictionary definitions for pontiff

/ (ˈpɒntɪf) /


a former title of the pagan high priest at Rome, later used of popes and occasionally of other bishops, and now confined exclusively to the pope

Word Origin for pontiff

C17: from French pontife, from Latin pontifex
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

Cultural definitions for pontiff


Another name for the pope. Pontiff comes from a Latin word, meaning “bridge builder,” that was used as a title for some of the priests of ancient Rome.

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.