Definition of Pontifex Maximus in English:

Pontifex Maximus


  • 1(in ancient Rome) the head of the principal college of priests.

    • ‘Now, the religions were all subjects of a Pontifex Maximus, who we call ‘Emperor’ in later usage.’
    • ‘Now, recall that the way that the Romans set up their control, they set up this system of Pontifex Maximus, in which the emperor was the head of the religion.’
    • ‘Massive bribery with money borrowed from the rich and influential ex-consul Crassus also procured for him the politically important office of Pontifex Maximus in 63.’
    • ‘Cæsar might be ready to go to war; but if the Pontifex Maximus at Number XI opens any one of five pigeons and pronounces its entrails unpropitious, then the legions must stand down.’
    • ‘As a result, the bishops of the Christian community in the city of Rome became prominent leaders, and acquired the incidental pagan title of Pontifex Maximus along the way.’
    • ‘The emperor, Pontifex Maximus, sits on top of the Pantheon, and adjudicates the differences among the doctrines.’
    1. 1.1 (in the Roman Catholic Church) a title of the Pope.
      • ‘One of the most amazing aspects about the ascendancy of the papacy is that the church of Rome promotes the pope as the "Pontifex Maximus".’
      • ‘Occasionally it was good custom to plunder the palace of the freshly deceased Pontifex Maximus.’


Maximus, superlative of Latin magnus ‘great’.


Pontifex Maximus