con·​sis·​to·​ry kən-ˈsi-st(ə-)rē How to pronounce consistory (audio)
plural consistories
: a solemn assembly : council
: a church tribunal or governing body: such as
: a solemn meeting of Roman Catholic cardinals convoked and presided over by the pope
: a church session in some Reformed churches
: the organization that confers the degrees of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry usually from the 19th to the 32nd inclusive
also : a meeting of such an organization
consistorial adjective

Examples of consistory in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Last year, Pope Francis elevated Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego, California, to cardinal during his August consistory. Teddy Grant, ABC News, 9 July 2023 If Francis chooses to resign during the August consistory, that consistory would automatically become a conclave, with the cardinal-electors locked in the Sistine Chapel until a new pope has been chosen. Grayson Quay, The Week, 7 June 2022 In recent days, some Italian and international news reports have suggested that the pope’s abdication could be at hand — a theory based less on hard evidence than on eyebrow-raising over a series of unusual events slated for late August, starting with the consistory. Stefano Pitrelli, Washington Post, 7 June 2022 Calling a major consistory in late August to create new cardinals, gathering churchmen for two days of talks on implementing his reform and making a symbolically significant pastoral visit suggests Francis might have out-of-the-ordinary business in mind. Nicole Winfield, ajc, 5 June 2022 The visit was announced following another move that raised questions: Francis' decision to call a consistory for Aug. 27 to create 21 new cardinals — 16 of whom would be eligible to vote on who will decide on his replacement, according to The Washington Post. Alexandra Schonfeld,, 4 July 2022 Van Looy had been one of 21 individuals Francis selected for the honor, a move that will be formalized — for the other 20 — during a consistory in August. Chico Harlan, Washington Post, 17 June 2022 After the consistory, those from Europe will account for 42% of the College of Cardinals, compared to 52% in 2013, when Francis’ pontificate began. Frances D'emilio, Chicago Tribune, 27 Aug. 2022 After the next consistory, the number of voting-age cardinals from Asia and Africa will have nearly doubled, compared with the conclave that elected Francis. Stefano Pitrelli, Washington Post, 7 June 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'consistory.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English consistorie "diocesan court, tribunal, session of a tribunal, council chamber," borrowed from Anglo-French consistorie, consistoire "court of law, diocesan court, convocation of cardinals," borrowed from Medieval Latin consistōrium "place of assembly, council, ecclesiastical court," going back to Late Latin, "place of assembly, habitation, privy council of the emperor," from Latin consistere "to come to a halt, remain at the same level, take up a position, continue in a place, reside, live" + -ōrium -ory entry 1 — more at consist entry 1

Note: The predominant Middle English form is constorie (with numerous variants, as cunstorie, constri), resulting from syncope of consistorie with original stress on the first syllable.

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of consistory was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near consistory

Cite this Entry

“Consistory.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Nov. 2023.

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