One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Of, relating to, or belonging to a high-ranking cleric, especially the Pope.
2Stately; lordly, imperious; depreciative haughty, arrogant, pompous.
Late 16th century; earliest use found in John Harington (bap. 1560, d. 1612), courtier and author. From classical Latin pontificius of or relating to a pontifex + -al. With use as adjective compare pontifical and pontifician. With use as noun compare pontifical and pontifician.
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