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 The accusations covered in the trial first came to light when an anonymous source sent a letter to several cardinals and to Francis in 2013, the first year of his papacy., 7 Oct. 2021 Among those on hand for the Mass was Polish Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the longtime aide to St. John Paul II, the Polish pope who made three visits to Slovakia during his quarter-century papacy. Nicole Winfield, ajc, 14 Sep. 2021 Francis, meantime, has been regularly making a religious and moral case for welcoming migrants, keeping the issue as almost obsessive centerpiece of his papacy. Washington Post, 10 Sep. 2021 The pope's rollback immediately created an uproar among traditionalists already opposed to Francis' more progressive bent and still nostalgic for Benedict's doctrinaire papacy. Nicole Winfield, Star Tribune, 16 July 2021 The pope's rollback immediately created an uproar among traditionalists already opposed to Francis’ more progressive bent and nostalgic for Benedict’s doctrinaire papacy. Fox News, 16 July 2021 The papacy itself is increasingly treated as a kind of independent and semi-oracular authority. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, 15 Sep. 2021 Avignon was the capital of the papacy from 1309-1377, and the Pope's Palace there is a gorgeous example of Gothic design. Jordi Lippe-mcgraw, Forbes, 13 Sep. 2021 There was an epochal tint to Guns N’ Roses’ dormant period, a decades-long estrangement that outlasted two-term presidents, the Benedict papacy and a wholesale reappropriation of the band itself. Nathan Rizzo | For The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, 29 July 2021

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

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Last Updated

19 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Papacy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Oct. 2021.

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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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