pontificate

verb
pon·​tif·​i·​cate | \pän-ˈti-fə-ˌkāt \
pontificated; pontificating

Definition of pontificate 

(Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to speak or express opinions in a pompous or dogmatic way He does not pontificate about whether one ought to choose, if forced to it, to betray one's country rather than one's friends …— Robin W. Winks What these interviews generally come down to is an invitation to writers to pontificate upon things for which it is either unseemly for them to speak (the quality of their own work) or upon which they are unfit to judge (the state of the cosmos).— Joseph Epstein

2a : to officiate as a pontiff

b : to celebrate pontifical mass

pontificate

noun
pon·​tif·​i·​cate | \pän-ˈti-fi-kət, -ˌkāt\

Definition of pontificate (Entry 2 of 2)

: the state, office, or term of office of a pontiff

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Other Words from pontificate

Verb

pontification \ (ˌ)pän-​ˌti-​fə-​ˈkā-​shən \ noun
pontificator \ pän-​ˈti-​fə-​ˌkā-​tər \ noun

Did You Know?

Noun

In ancient Rome, the pontifices were powerful priests who administered the part of civil law that regulated relationships with the deities recognized by the state. Their name, pontifex, derives from the Latin words pons, meaning "bridge," and facere, meaning "to make," and some think it may have developed because the group was associated with a sacred bridge over the river Tiber (although there is no proof of that). With the rise of Catholicism, the title "pontifex" was transferred to the Pope and to Catholic bishops. Pontificate derives from "pontifex," and in its earliest English uses it referred to things associated with such prelates. By the early 1800s, "pontificate" was also being used derisively for individuals who spoke as if they had the authority of an ecclesiastic.

Examples of pontificate in a Sentence

Verb

We had to listen to her pontificate about the best way to raise children.

Noun

He was elected to the pontificate last year. during the pontificate of Pope John Paul II
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The idea of men sitting around on all these networks pontificating on a woman's dress, why aren't women talking about veils and dresses? Fox News, "New data reveals US faces legal immigration crisis," 22 May 2018 After weeks of wondering and pontificating over every pitch meeting the star center took, John Tavares signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs for seven years at an $11 million AAV. Michael Blinn, SI.com, "John Tavares Joins Promising Maple Leafs With Seven-Year Deal," 30 June 2018 Feiffer structures the first part of the play as an almost-monologue for David (Tom Aulino), with occasional interruptions from Ella (Rebecca Berens), who largely keeps to her function: serving as her pontificating father’s raptly adoring audience. Christine Dolen, miamiherald, "'I'm Gonna Pray for You So Hard' does, sadly, reflect the dark soul of our times," 11 June 2018 Instead, her subjects pontificate at length, seemingly without challenge or direction, and missed opportunities mount as the book progresses. Sarah Jones, The New Republic, "The Myth of Trump’s Populist Revolt," 18 May 2018 In typical government style, the announcement was big on pontificating politicians and short on detail. Jack Stewart, WIRED, "FAA Relaxes Drone Restrictions With 10 New Programs," 9 May 2018 Someone who for some un-godly reason does get paid to pontificate on politics, her name is Miss Ana Navarro tweeted at me. Fox News, "Nigel Farage talks Alfie Evans and Britain's medical system," 28 Apr. 2018 Interspersed with these put-downs are risible, often mystifying passages in which Ortese pontificates on class, politics and the afflictions of Naples and southern Italy. Ben Downing, WSJ, "‘Neapolitan Chronicles’ Review: Naples Painted Black," 6 Apr. 2018 So except for local news coverage and conservative political pontificating about black-on-black crime, everyday deaths seldom get much media coverage and the public at large rarely seems to care. German Lopez, Vox, "March for Our Lives’ Edna Chavez speaks for the kind of gun violence that doesn’t make front pages," 24 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The most prominent doctrinal question in the current pontificate has been over divorce. Francis X. Rocca, WSJ, "Pope Benedict Protects Pope Francis’ Right Flank," 13 Mar. 2018 Three months ago, Pope Francis was at the low point of his five-year pontificate in terms of public image and credibility. Francis X. Rocca, WSJ, "Pope’s Handling of Sex-Abuse Case Shows Political Savvy," 21 May 2018 Francis’s attributed views aren’t totally unheard of among Christians Francis’s reported dismissal of hell ties into a wider theme of his pontificate: celebrating God’s mercy over God’s judgment. Tara Isabella Burton, Vox, "Pope Francis reportedly denies the existence of hell. Vatican panics.," 30 Mar. 2018 Five years ago: Pope Benedict XVI bestowed the final Sunday blessing of his pontificate on a cheering crowd in St. Peter's Square. Mike Rose, cleveland.com, "Today in History: February 24, 2018," 24 Feb. 2018 The leaks about the hand-delivery of this letter to the pontiff may be evidence itself that senior churchmen are losing confidence in his pontificate. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "It’s Now the Pope’s Scandal," 6 Feb. 2018 Richard Thaler, the University of Chicago economist from the Booth School of Business who won the Nobel Prize on Monday, is an economist we cultural pontificates can love. Chris Jones, chicagotribune.com, "Economist Richard Thaler is a Nobel winner we arty types can love," 13 Oct. 2017 The pope added it on the spokesman’s advice, likely avoiding a public relations contretemps of the kind that repeatedly marked the new pontificate after Dr. Navarro-Valls’ departure. Francis X. Rocca, WSJ, "Joaquín Navarro-Valls Became Interpreter and Envoy of Popes," 14 July 2017 Francis has made refugees a priority of his pontificate, making his first trip outside Rome in 2013 to the island of Lampedusa, ground zero in Europe’s migration crisis. Washington Post, "Pope: Rights of migrants trump national security concerns," 21 Aug. 2017

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

Verb

1818, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for pontificate

Verb

Medieval Latin pontificatus, past participle of pontificare, from Latin pontific-, pontifex

Noun

Middle English, from Latin pontificatus, from pontific-, pontifex

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The first known use of pontificate was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for pontificate

pontificate

noun

English Language Learners Definition of pontificate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the position of a pope

: the period of time during which a particular person is pope

pontificate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of pontificate (Entry 2 of 2)

: to speak or express your opinion about something in a way that shows that you think you are always right

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obstinately defiant of authority

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