Definition of pontificate in English:



  • 1Express one's opinions in a pompous and dogmatic way.

    ‘he was pontificating about art and history’
    • ‘Even an additional CD or two with some of the best tracks would have been a way for viewers to hear some of these classic songs uninterrupted by Tom Petty pontificating about various musicians and movements.’
    • ‘Unless one is in that situation and really knows what it is like to face those sorts of family difficulties, one does not know what one is talking about when pontificating about cultural sensitivities.’
    • ‘It is possible to prattle and pontificate about the cultural relevance of the cheap romance novel, and how its development, like, totally reflects the changes to women's status in society.’
    • ‘Maybe that smashed window in the corporate box was actually the result of a disturbed football supporter who was watching Eddie pontificating on the subject of expectoration.’
    • ‘The occasional glimpses of the tumultuous moment - shooting of a Vietnamese in the street, dying U.S. soldiers, presidents pontificating - are gestures to headlines of the times.’
    • ‘He took his swings, watched by many, then stood around the batting cage pontificating about hitting, while other players went out to take fielding practice when their hitting was done.’
    • ‘Instead speakers from across the political spectrum pontificated over the ‘meaninglessness’ of official political reform efforts, listing countless reasons why the current regime has to go.’
    • ‘Rather than pontificating about the evils of unions, he would be better served explaining how his laws contributed in a real way to the ugly situation occurring.’
    • ‘Make sure everyone on your staff treats women the same way they'd treat men: They should be helpful and respectful and inquire as to need - rather than pontificating and telling her what they think is best for her.’
    • ‘‘Stormy Waters, Pundit’ is a short cartoon featuring Sealab's resident dolt pontificating on a number of political topics.’
    • ‘He has spent the past two years using digital technology to bring together people in desperate straits, getting things done while others were pontificating.’
    • ‘There are even a few interviews with various folks and fans pontificating on stuff like ‘new wave bands’ and the various intricacies of their favorite rock groups.’
    • ‘The rare footage of Zorn pontificating on his music and directing his various ensembles proves more intriguing than Heuermann's woolly-headed intrusions.’
    • ‘Although Congress has been pontificating about the challenges that confront Social Security for years, and years, and years, the fundamental financial structure of Social Security continues to decay.’
    • ‘‘An Interview with Renny Harlin’ is a short section featuring director Harlin pontificating upon the effects, the cast and the script.’
    • ‘Think of the herd as being similar to government: you just know that the drought is over when you get every state Premier sitting around a table pontificating about how we should all put a brick in the dunny.’
    • ‘It takes a heck of a lot more effort than pontificating about the evils of livestock.’
    • ‘While ‘top analysts’ are pontificating about 50 percent and 70 percent increases, the real increases here in Southern California are around 300 percent.’
    • ‘Others pontificate on health, telling us what we should and should not do to remain well, while we are overwhelmed with financial advice from experts whose predictions often turn out wrong.’
    • ‘Mr. Rukeyser and Mr. Kudlow spend a lot of time pontificating publicly about the stock market, but I don't remember many responsible comments warning viewers in the midst of the frenzy of the danger of wild speculative excess.’
    hold forth, expound, declaim, preach, lay down the law, sound off, dogmatize, sermonize, moralize, pronounce, lecture, expatiate
    preachify, mouth off, spiel
    View synonyms
  • 2(in the Roman Catholic Church) officiate as bishop, especially at Mass.

    ‘he pontificated at three Christmas Masses’
    • ‘As a Bishop he pontificated that night and consecrated the apostles bishops so they might say the Mass with him.’
    • ‘On the feast itself he pontificated at Mass and preached three times to the people.’


  • (in the Roman Catholic Church) the office or period of office of a pope or bishop.

    ‘Pope Gregory VIII enjoyed only a ten-week pontificate’
    • ‘One preliminary point: this will not be made a dogma of the Church during this pontificate since this Pope is not inclined to do anything that would be perceived as a unilateral action apart from the Eastern bishops.’
    • ‘Before that can be done well, I think, the archives of Pius XII's pontificate will probably have to be fully catalogued and opened.’
    • ‘Early in this pontificate, that institutional question was more clearly addressed in papal teaching on social justice and in diplomatic pressure in Eastern Europe.’
    • ‘Yes, I think it's timing - the timing is significant, number one, because it comes very early in the pope's pontificate.’
    • ‘Later this month the church's 184 cardinals will gather at the Vatican for the sixth consistory of Pope John Paul II's pontificate.’


Late Middle English (as a noun): from Latin pontificatus, from pontifex (see pontifex). The verb dates from the early 19th century.