ex cathedra

adverb or adjective

ex ca·​the·​dra ˌeks-kə-ˈthē-drə How to pronounce ex cathedra (audio)
: by virtue of or in the exercise of one's office or position
ex cathedra pronouncements

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Ex cathedra is a Latin phrase, meaning not "from the cathedral," but "from the chair." The phrase does have religious origins though: it was originally applied to decisions made by Popes from their thrones. According to Roman Catholic doctrine, a Pope speaking ex cathedra on issues of faith or morals is infallible. In general use, the phrase has come to be used with regard to statements made by people in positions of authority, and it is often used ironically to describe someone speaking with overbearing or unwarranted self-certainty.

Examples of ex cathedra in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Roman Catholicism may have a pope who has the ex cathedra power, used rarely, to state that a particular dogma is absolutely and essentially at the core of the faith. Patrick T. Reardon, Star Tribune, 1 Oct. 2020 Happer has repeatedly questioned the underlying science and dismissed dire warnings of a planet in peril, and had hoped the establishment of a review panel would provide an ex cathedra counterweight to the scientific consensus. Author: Michael Wilner, Anchorage Daily News, 9 Feb. 2020

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

Word History


New Latin, literally, from the chair

First Known Use

1693, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of ex cathedra was in 1693


Dictionary Entries Near ex cathedra

Cite this Entry

“Ex cathedra.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ex%20cathedra. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

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