Definition of encyclical in English:



  • A papal letter sent to all bishops of the Roman Catholic Church.

    • ‘For the next hundred years, scholars, theologians, and students will be pouring over the papal encyclicals that have come out of the Vatican.’
    • ‘The Pope issued 13 encyclicals, including three on socio-economic questions, and wrote several best-selling books.’
    • ‘Leo XIII wrote some eleven encyclicals on the rosary and decided that October would be dedicated to it.’
    • ‘At that time, English Catholic school children studied the papal encyclicals Rerum novarum and Quadragesimo anno.’
    • ‘Still, he relies exclusively on the magisterial expressions found in the new catechism and in papal encyclicals.’
    • ‘I don't read the papal encyclical on human life that way myself.’
    • ‘Similarly, he discusses two papal encyclicals that express views of marriage different from those that had prevailed earlier.’
    • ‘His answer to problems seems to be to write more encyclicals - encyclicals to which people pay lip service but which they then promptly ignore.’
    • ‘In March 1937, a papal encyclical had condemned the persecution of the Catholic Church in Germany.’
    • ‘Leo wrote some eighty-five encyclicals, most of them fairly brief.’


Mid 17th century (as an adjective): via late Latin from Greek enkuklios circular, general, from en- in + kuklos a circle.