Definition of decretal in US English:



  • A papal decree concerning a point of canon law.

    • ‘Elsewhere on my site there is an example of a decretal from such an early collection.’
    • ‘On September 27, 1996, the trial court promulgated a Decision in favor of the private respondent and against the petitioners, the decretal portion of which reads as follows.’
    • ‘The new collection of decretals had an immediate diffusion and between 1250 and 1350 many copies were produced in the universities of northern Italy and France.’
    • ‘To Boniface's own decretals were later appended the Constitutiones of Boniface's immediate successor, Clement V, the Extravagantes of John XXII, and finally, in 1500-1503, the Extravagantes Communes.’
    • ‘This format became standard for the codification of decretals until 1917.’
    • ‘Boniface VIII also issued a supplement of decretals that were promulgated in 1298 and attached to the compilation of Gregory.’
    • ‘But those writings were condemned as spurious in the decretals attributed to Pope Gelasius at the end of the fifth century.’
    decree, order, command, commandment, mandate, proclamation, pronouncement, dictum, dictate, fiat, promulgation, precept
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  • Of the nature of a decree.

    • ‘Findings of fact and conclusions of law that do not contain decretal language are not appealable.’
    • ‘The presidential decretal law no.33 of 1992 regarded salaries and rewards for armed forces and security.’


Middle English: from late Latin decretale, neuter of decretalis (adjective), from Latin decret- ‘decided’, from the verb decernere.