pontiff

noun
pon·​tiff | \ ˈpän-təf \

Definition of pontiff

1 : pontifex
2 : bishop specifically, often capitalized : pope sense 1

Examples of pontiff in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

After years of an ailing pontiff leading a stuffy Church, Cardinal Bergoglio’s common touch and his South American pedigree seemed a logical choice for a Church desperate to engage with its future. Jason Horowitz, Vogue, "How Pope Francis Is Changing the Catholic Church," 16 July 2018 The cardinals each went up to greet the frail 91-year-old Benedict, who was sitting in a chair, taking his hand and briefly chatting with the emeritus pontiff. Washington Post, "Pope to 14 new cardinals: Defend the dignity of the poor," 28 June 2018 During the years that McCarrick was purportedly under sanctions, the cardinal celebrated public Masses and attended other public functions, even before Francis became pontiff. Frances D'emilio, The Seattle Times, "Pope’s remedy to those seeking scandal: prayer and silence," 3 Sep. 2018 An overall 46 percent say the pontiff is doing a poor or middling job—roughly equal to those who praised his approach—up from 34 percent who held this view three years ago. Sofia Lotto Persio, Newsweek, "First Look at Pope Francis Starring as Himself in New Wim Wenders Movie," 14 Mar. 2018 After the students again named Corradi as an abuser living in Pope Francis' native Argentina in a 2014 letter to the pontiff and the Verona bishop, the Vatican still took no action. Fox News, "Argentina: Raid at school for deaf in clerical abuse probe," 6 Sep. 2018 Vatican officials, however, cautioned against interpreting the pontiff’s pastoral outreach as a definitive ruling on the nature-versus-nurture question or as a change in church teaching. Jason Horowitz, BostonGlobe.com, "‘God made you this way,’ pope is said to have told gay man," 21 May 2018 Vatican officials, however, cautioned against interpreting the pontiff’s pastoral outreach as a definitive ruling on the nature-versus-nurture question or as a change in church teaching. Jason Horowitz, New York Times, "‘God Made You This Way,’ Pope Is Said to Have Told Gay Man," 21 May 2018 The director is clearly an admirer of Francis (both the saint and the pope), and was able to conduct extensive and exclusive interviews with the pontiff. Walter Addiego, Houston Chronicle, "In documentary, Pope Francis urges ‘‘a poor church for the poor’," 19 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pontiff.' 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 pontiff

1552, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for pontiff

French pontif, from Latin pontific-, pontifex

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Statistics for pontiff

Last Updated

2 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for pontiff

The first known use of pontiff was in 1552

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Spanish Central: Translation of pontiff

Nglish: Translation of pontiff for Spanish Speakers

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