Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The pope.
  • n. A bishop.
  • n. A pontifex.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One of the sacred college, in ancient Rome, which had the supreme jurisdiction over all matters of religion, at the head of which was the Pontifex Maximus.
  • n. The chief priest.
  • n. The pope.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In Roman antiquity, a chief priest: same as pontifex, 1.
  • n. A Jewish high priest.
  • n. Eccles., a bishop; especially, the Bishop of Rome, as the head of the church; the Pope. Also called the supreme pontiff.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the head of the Roman Catholic Church

Etymologies

French pontife, from Old French pontif, from Latin pontifex, pontifex; see pent- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle French pontife, from Latin pontifex. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • FESSIO: Well, yes, pontiff comes from the Latin word "pontifex," which means a builder of a bridge.

    CNN Transcript Apr 19, 2005

  • The pontiff is celebrating Holy Week — the most solemn period in the Roman Catholic calendar — as allegations that the church covered up clerical sex abuse spread across Europe, including his native Germany, and the United States.

    Holy Thursday: Pope washes feet, Vatican slams media amid scandal

  • Pope Benedict XVI sent greetings to Tour riders and organizers as the pack passed close to the Alpine retreat of Les Combes, overlooking Mont Blanc, where the pontiff is staying.

    Astarloza wins Stage 16, Contador holds yellow

  • Here the pontiff is shown gesturing towards the people in the church, as the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove hovers by his side.

    The Christian Artist

  • The resting place of the first pontiff is surrounded by coffins of many of his successors, joined Friday by John Paul.

    USATODAY.com - Millions of mourners bid farewell to Pope John Paul II

  • Bruno confines his use of the word pontiff to three of the final sections on priestly vestments: Quid pallium significet, De vittis, and De summo pontifice.

    Hamilton: "A Liturgy of Reform"

  • Bulgarian king and the Roman pontiff is inscribed in the Gesta

    The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

  • The former deputy to Pope Benedict XVI when the pontiff was the Munich archbishop rebutted suggestions made in letters written by a friend that he had been pushed into taking sole responsibility for reassigning a pedophile priest to active ministry 30 years ago.

    Role of Pope's Ex-Deputy in Priest Case Questioned

  • According to Martin, Leo IV (847-855) was succeeded in the papal chair by the Englishman John of Mainz (Johannes Anglicus) who reigned for two years, seven months, and four days until it was discovered that the pontiff was a woman.

    Archive 2009-02-01

  • This time the ever-bumbling Inspector Clouseau is on the ever-meandering trail of a thief who steals such priceless artifacts as the Magna Carta (nothing is made of that theft), the Shroud of Turin (Clouseau calls the pontiff Mr. Pope and detects that he's very spiritual) and the Pink Panther Diamond, whose re-disappearance -- it was stolen in the previous film too -- may have been required for the perfunctory script to fill 90 minutes.

    'Into You' Is a Frayed Valentine

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