[ pon-tif-i-kuhl ]
See synonyms for: pontificalpontificals on Thesaurus.com

  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of a pontiff; papal.

  2. pompous, dogmatic, or pretentious: to resent someone's pontifical manner.

  1. (in the Western Church) a book containing the forms for the sacraments and other rites and ceremonies to be performed by bishops.

  2. pontificals, the vestments and other insignia of a pontiff, especially a bishop.

Origin of pontifical

1350–1400; Middle English <Latin pontificālis, equivalent to pontific- (stem of pontifex) pontifex + -ālis-al1

Other words from pontifical

  • pon·tif·i·cal·ly, adverb
  • un·pon·tif·i·cal, adjective
  • un·pon·tif·i·cal·ly, adverb

Words Nearby pontifical

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use pontifical in a sentence

  • They built others in other cities; but still they had a horror of tapers, lustral water, pontifical habits, etc.

    A Philosophical Dictionary, Volume 1 (of 10) | Franois-Marie Arouet (AKA Voltaire)
  • Meanwhile, the cardinal had passed behind the altar to put on his pontifical robes; soon he reappeared with the holy vial.

    Chicot the Jester | Alexandre Dumas, Pere
  • First, there is the "atheist formula" of 'art for the sake of art';—a heresy he scourged with pontifical anathemas.

    The Life of Mazzini | Bolton King
  • The highest religious officer of the state, the pontifex maximus, was from this time on elected by the pontifical College.

  • Mr. Wilmot waved a pontifical good-bye and vanished in the direction of Kensington.

    Sinister Street, vol. 1 | Compton Mackenzie

British Dictionary definitions for pontifical


/ (pɒnˈtɪfɪkəl) /

  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of a pontiff, the pope, or a bishop

  2. having an excessively authoritative manner; pompous

  1. RC Church Church of England a book containing the prayers and ritual instructions for ceremonies restricted to a bishop

Derived forms of pontifical

  • pontifically, adverb

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