pa·​pa·​cy | \ ˈpā-pə-sē How to pronounce papacy (audio) \
plural papacies

Definition of papacy

1 : the office of pope
2 : a succession or line of popes
3 : the term of a pope's reign
4 capitalized : the system of government of the Roman Catholic Church of which the pope is the supreme head

Examples of papacy in a Sentence

He was selected by the cardinals for the papacy.
Recent Examples on the Web Even before the coronavirus, Francis no longer had the same global fanfare of the early years of his papacy. Washington Post, "Pope Francis’s new encyclical is a papal warning about a world going backward," 4 Oct. 2020 Some Vatican watchers even spoke of him as a serious candidate for the papacy. Francis X. Rocca, WSJ, "Powerful Cardinal Resigns Amid Financial Scandal," 24 Sep. 2020 Francis has dedicated much of his papacy to highlighting the plight of those living on life's margins, saying societies must put them at the center of their attention. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Pope: Rich can’t get priority for vaccine, poor need help," 19 Aug. 2020 Campbell was a subject in an investigation of nuns conducted by the Church during Pope Benedict XVI's papacy. Nicholas Rowan, Washington Examiner, "Two controversial Catholic leaders to offer prayers at DNC," 17 Aug. 2020 Under normal circumstances, papers covering Pius’ papacy would have been under lock and key until 2028, or 70 years after the end of his tenure. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "Newly Unsealed Vatican Archives Lay Out Evidence of Pope Pius XII’s Knowledge of the Holocaust," 5 May 2020 Francis’ message appeared aimed at conservative and traditionalist Catholics, including within the Vatican Curia, who have voiced increasing opposition to his progressive-minded papacy. Nicole Winfield,, "Pope denounces ‘rigidity’ as he warns of Christian decline," 21 Dec. 2019 Francis, then known as Cardinal Bergoglio, is a sharp critic of and marked contrast to the traditionally-minded Benedict, who wants the reluctant Argentinian to succeed him in the papacy. Ew Staff,, "What to Watch this Weekend: At long last, Eddie Murphy returns to Saturday Night Live," 20 Dec. 2019 Few people would ever have expected to dredge up the remains of a pontiff who, nine months after his death, was at the center of on of the most bizarre episodes in the history of the papacy: a posthumous trial of a corpse. National Geographic, "In 897, the corpse of a pope was exhumed—to be put on trial.," 20 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'papacy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of papacy

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for papacy

Middle English papacie, from Medieval Latin papatia, from Late Latin papa pope — more at pope

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Time Traveler for papacy

Time Traveler

The first known use of papacy was in the 14th century

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Statistics for papacy

Last Updated

18 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Papacy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for papacy


How to pronounce papacy (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of papacy

: the office or position of the pope
: the time when a particular pope is in power

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