pa·​pal ˈpā-pəl How to pronounce papal (audio)
: of or relating to a pope or to the Roman Catholic Church
also : resembling a pope or that of a pope
papally adverb

Examples of papal in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Gabriele Giordano Caccia, the papal nuncio to the United Nations. Rosalie R. Radomsky, New York Times, 22 Sep. 2023 The papal phone call came amid Israel’s public criticism of the Vatican’s tendency to treat the Israel Defense Forces as morally equivalent to the Hamas terrorists who targeted, attacked and butchered unarmed Israeli civilians. William McGurn, WSJ, 23 Oct. 2023 Ukraine has passed messages and lists of names to the papal nuncio in Kyiv, Archbishop Visvaldas Kulbokas, who forwards them via the Holy See to the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow, according to a Ukrainian official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. Isobel Koshiw, Washington Post, 24 Oct. 2023 In 2015, at the United Nations Paris Climate Change Conference, often referred to as COP21, at least 10 world leaders made specific references to the papal encyclical during their addresses, and the meeting ended with a landmark agreement to fight climate change. Elisabetta Povoledo, New York Times, 4 Oct. 2023 The papal cult that continued to grow from the first Vatican Council and reached its zenith under John Paul II has come crashing down under Francis. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, 20 Sep. 2023 Excitement has been building for weeks in Juba, where colorful murals of Francis appeared on the ramshackle streets, and the authorities laid the route to the papal nunciature with a new tarmac road, still a rarity in South Sudan. Jason Horowitz Jim Huylebroek, New York Times, 3 Feb. 2023 In 2001 he was elevated to the College of Cardinals and participated in the papal conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI in 2005. Jeremiah Poff, Washington Examiner, 30 Aug. 2023 The sword was commissioned to replace the original Sword of State, also known as the Papal sword, which is believed to be a papal gift from Pope Alexander VI to King James IV in 1494. Time, 3 July 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'papal.' 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, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin papalis, from Late Latin papa

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near papal

Cite this Entry

“Papal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


pa·​pal ˈpā-pəl How to pronounce papal (audio)
: of or relating to the pope or the papacy
papally adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on papal

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