pon·​tiff | \ ˈpän-təf How to pronounce pontiff (audio) \

Definition of pontiff

2 : bishop specifically, often capitalized : pope sense 1

Examples of pontiff in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web New cardinals under the age of 80 will join fellow cardinals eligible to elect the next pontiff in a secret conclave. chicagotribune.com, "Pope Francis names 13 new cardinals, including Archbishop Wilton Gregory, the first US Black prelate chosen for the honor," 25 Oct. 2020 But the pontiff resumed general audiences on Sept. 2. Star Tribune, "Brazil Catholics drawn to worship despite downsized services," 12 Oct. 2020 The pontiff took as his central text the parable of the Good Samaritan. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Pope Francis’ new encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, enshrines familiar criticisms of racism and borders," 5 Oct. 2020 Created by Polish artist Jerzy Kalina, the sculpture—titled Poisoned Well—shows the late pontiff lifting a boulder over his head, poised to throw it into a pool of red water. Livia Gershon, Smithsonian Magazine, "Why a New Sculpture of Pope John Paul II Is So Controversial," 28 Sep. 2020 He also was stripped of the rights that come with being a cardinal, including voting for the next pontiff. Elisabetta Povoledo, New York Times, "Cardinal Dismissed Over Corruption Says He’s Innocent," 25 Sep. 2020 To their surprise, the pontiff received them in private. NBC News, "Their story touched a pope: Retired Italian couple buried together after dying of Covid-19," 17 Sep. 2020 Amid the pandemic, racial unrest and growing inequality, there is a mounting sense of urgency that has characterized Francis' words in recent months, suggesting that, for the Argentine pontiff, the time for waiting is over. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Pope Francis launches his post-COVID agenda with announcement of new encyclical," 8 Sep. 2020 This speech, on the occasion of the U.N.'s 75th anniversary, will likely allow the pontiff to air some of his reflections on the international chessboard. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Pope Francis launches his post-COVID agenda with announcement of new encyclical," 8 Sep. 2020

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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The first known use of pontiff was in 1552

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Last Updated

7 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pontiff.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pontiff. Accessed 26 Nov. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on pontiff

Nglish: Translation of pontiff for Spanish Speakers

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