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[pon-tif-i-kuh l]
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  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of a pontiff; papal.
  2. pompous, dogmatic, or pretentious: to resent someone's pontifical manner.
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  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.
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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. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for pontificals


pl n
  1. mainly RC Church the insignia and special vestments worn by a bishop, esp when celebrating High Mass
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  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of a pontiff, the pope, or a bishop
  2. having an excessively authoritative manner; pompous
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  1. RC Church Church of England a book containing the prayers and ritual instructions for ceremonies restricted to a bishop
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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 pontificals



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."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper