See more synonyms for pope on Thesaurus.com
  1. (often initial capital letter) the bishop of Rome as head of the Roman Catholic Church.
  2. (in the early Christian church) a bishop.
  3. a person considered as having or assuming authority or a position similar to that of the Roman Catholic pope.
  4. the title of the Coptic patriarch of Alexandria.
  5. Eastern Church.
    1. the Orthodox patriarch of Alexandria.
    2. (in certain churches) a parish priest.

Origin of pope

before 900; Middle English; Old English pāpa < Late Latin: bishop, pope < Late Greek pápas bishop, priest, variant of páppas father; see papa
Related formspope·less, adjectivepope·like, adjective


  1. Alexander,1688–1744, English poet.
  2. John,1822–92, Union general in the U.S. Civil War.
  3. John Russell,1874–1937, U.S. architect.


  1. died 1690?, Pueblo medicine man: led rebellion against the Spanish 1680.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for pope


  1. (often capital) the bishop of Rome as head of the Roman Catholic ChurchRelated adjective: papal
  2. Eastern Orthodox Church
    1. a title sometimes given to a parish priest
    2. a title sometimes given to the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Alexandria
  3. a person assuming or having a status or authority resembling that of a pope

Word Origin for pope

Old English papa, from Church Latin: bishop, esp of Rome, from Late Greek papas father-in-God, from Greek pappas father


  1. another name for ruffe


  1. Alexander. 1688–1744, English poet, regarded as the most brilliant satirist of the Augustan period, esp with his Imitations of Horace (1733–38). His technical virtuosity is most evident in The Rape of the Lock (1712–14). Other works include The Dunciad (1728; 1742), the Moral Essays (1731–35), and An Essay on Man (1733–34)
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 pope

Old English papa (9c.), from Church Latin papa "bishop, pope" (in classical Latin, "tutor"), from Greek papas "patriarch, bishop," originally "father." Applied to bishops of Asia Minor and taken as a title by the Bishop of Alexandria c.250. In Western Church, applied especially to the Bishop of Rome since the time of Leo the Great (440-461) and claimed exclusively by them from 1073 (usually in English with a capital P-). Popemobile, his car, is from 1979. Papal, papacy, later acquisitions in English, preserve the original vowel.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

pope in Culture


The head of the Roman Catholic Church. The pope is believed by his church to be the successor to the Apostle Peter. He is bishop of Rome and lives in a tiny nation within Rome called the Vatican. Catholics believe that when the pope speaks officially on matters of faith and morals, he speaks infallibly (see papal infallibility). (See also John XXIII and John Paul II.)

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.