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

  • n. A man on the highest council of priests in ancient Rome.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A high priest; a pontiff.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In Roman antiquity, a member of the principal college of priests who was not assigned to the service of any particular god, but performed general functions of the state religion. The chief of the pontifices was styled pontifex maximus, and was ex officio the highest religious authority in the state.
  • n. Eccles., a bishop; specifically, the Pope.

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

  • n. a member of the highest council of priests in ancient Rome


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

Latin; see pent- in Indo-European roots.


  • In this position he exerted great influence, first over the emperor Gratian (who revoked the edict of toleration, dropped the title pontifex maximus, confiscated the revenues of the Vestal Virgins and other priesthoods in Rome, and removed the Altar of Victory from the senate house), then over Valentinian II (whose denial in 384 of Symmachus's request to restore the Altar of Victory was due to Ambrose), and finally over Theodosius.

    d. Christians and Pagans

  • In the first four centuries C.E., authority in the Church rested in: (1) the emperor, who continued to take the title pontifex maximus and to exercise a prominent role in religious affairs.

    b. The Early Church

  • Bruno uses the term pontifex a scant nine times in a document some 7200 words long.

    Hamilton: "A Liturgy of Reform"

  • Candelae which makes several strong assertions of Petrine authority and uses the title pontifex throughout. 20 Even

    Hamilton: "A Liturgy of Reform"

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

    CNN Transcript Apr 19, 2005

  • He was seen as possessing a divine will, he was described as the pontifex maximus, the chief priest, and after his death he was worshipped as a god.


  • The old Latin name for priest is Pontifex; 'pontifex' literally means 'bridge-builder'; one of the Pope's titles is Pontifex Maximus; this title is a conversion to Christian use of an old pagan title.


  • His little entourage passed the Temple of Castor, and it was lucky I had moved up close behind it, because a little way up the Via Sacra they abruptly vanished and I realized they had stepped into the official residence of the pontifex maximus.


  • Then one day came the news that Metellus Pius, the pontifex maximus, had died.


  • PIUS, QUINTUS CAECILIUS METELLUS pontifex maximus; sixty-six years old and ailing; adoptive father of Scipio



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  • it can bridge gaps

    September 10, 2010