[pon-tif-i-kuh l]


of, relating to, or characteristic of a pontiff; papal.
pompous, dogmatic, or pretentious: to resent someone's pontifical manner.


(in the Western Church) a book containing the forms for the sacraments and other rites and ceremonies to be performed by bishops.
pontificals, the vestments and other insignia of a pontiff, especially a bishop.

Nearby words

  1. pontics,
  2. pontifex,
  3. pontifex maximus,
  4. pontiff,
  5. pontific,
  6. pontifical college,
  7. pontifical mass,
  8. pontificals,
  9. pontificate,
  10. pontification

Origin of pontifical

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

Related formspon·tif·i·cal·ly, adverbun·pon·tif·i·cal, adjectiveun·pon·tif·i·cal·ly, adverb

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pontifical

British Dictionary definitions for pontifical



of, relating to, or characteristic of a pontiff, the pope, or a bishop
having an excessively authoritative manner; pompous


RC Church Church of England a book containing the prayers and ritual instructions for ceremonies restricted to a bishop
See also pontificals

Derived Formspontifically, 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

Word Origin and History for pontifical



early 15c., from Middle French pontifical and directly from Latin pontificalis "of or pertaining to the high priest," from pontifex (see pontifex). Hence pontificalia "trappings of a bishop."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper