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pontificate

verb pon·tif·i·cate \ pän-ˈti-fə-ˌkāt \
Updated on: 17 Nov 2017

Definition of pontificate

pontificated; pontificating
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
2 a :to officiate as a pontiff
b :to celebrate pontifical mass

pontification

play \(ˌ)pän-ˌti-fə-ˈkā-shən\ noun

pontificator

play \pän-ˈti-fə-ˌkā-tər\ noun

pontificate was our Word of the Day on 02/28/2015. Hear the podcast!

Examples of pontificate in a Sentence

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

Recent Examples of pontificate from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of pontificate

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

Other Christian Religious Terms


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pontificate

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

Definition of pontificate

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

Examples of pontificate in a Sentence

  1. He was elected to the pontificate last year.

  2. during the pontificate of Pope John Paul II

Recent Examples of pontificate from the Web

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.

Did You Know?

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.

Origin and Etymology of pontificate

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

Other Christian Religious Terms


PONTIFICATE Defined for English Language Learners

pontificate

noun

Definition of pontificate for English Language Learners

  • : the position of a pope

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


pontificate

verb

Definition of pontificate for English Language Learners

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



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