pa·​pal | \ˈpā-pəl \

Definition of papal 

: of or relating to a pope or to the Roman Catholic Church also : resembling a pope or that of a pope

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from papal

papally \ ˈpā-​pə-​lē \ adverb

Examples of papal in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Vigano went on to accuse more than two dozen current and former Vatican officials, as well as a host of U.S. bishops and papal advisers, of being part of the cover-up and called for Francis to resign over the scandal. Greg Norman, Fox News, "Ex-Vatican ambassador blasts Pope Francis over lack of response to claims of sexual abuse cover-up," 28 Sep. 2018 But in an off-hand remark to his graduate student Evan Irving-Pease, who led the analyses, Larson requested he find a reference for the papal decree to pair with the genetic study. Maya Wei-haas, Smithsonian, "The Odd, Tidy Story of Rabbit Domestication That Is Also Completely False," 14 Feb. 2018 The meeting was notably more casual than Charles's previous papal audiences; Pope Francis has done away with traditional dress codes, and Camila wore gold and left her head uncovered. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Prince Charles Just Gave Pope Francis the Most Thoughtful Gift," 5 Apr. 2017 But at least theoretically, the opulence and beauty of the papal vestments were in the service of a higher, more eternal idea, while the fashion embroidery is in the service of — what? Jason Farago, New York Times, "A Trinity of Opinions on the Met’s ‘Heavenly Bodies’," 20 May 2018 In addition to contemporary styles, the exhibition will also feature items from the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City, including papal vestments, rings and tiaras from the 18th century to the modern day. Mary Forgione,, "Five museum fashion shows not to miss, with items from Britain's royals and Frida Kahlo's closet," 30 Mar. 2018 With the possible exceptions of the Olympic Games and the verdict of a papal conclave, no other recurring event is capable of inspiring so much global fervor. Leo Robson, The New Yorker, "How We Watch Soccer Now," 5 Dec. 2016 The oldest item in the show is a 12th-century parchment papal bull, signed by the reigning pope, Anastasius IV; three future popes; one future antipope; and one future saint. Jennifer Schuessler, New York Times, "Not Your Average Autograph Collection," 12 July 2018 The Chandlers got very rich on real estate and publishing, grew the arts, built an Oscar-worthy music hall and, best of all, produced a golden son, Otis, with a movie-star chin but a papal heart. Chris Erskine,, "As we pack up, a bittersweet ode to a workplace that was my second home," 29 June 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of papal

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for papal

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin papalis, from Late Latin papa

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about papal

Dictionary Entries near papal





papal cross

papal decree


Statistics for papal

Last Updated

18 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for papal

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for papal



English Language Learners Definition of papal

: of or relating to the pope or the government of the Roman Catholic Church

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on papal

See words that rhyme with papal

Spanish Central: Translation of papal

Nglish: Translation of papal for Spanish Speakers

Comments on papal

What made you want to look up papal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a private place of worship

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!