Definition of pontifical in English:

pontifical

adjective

  • 1(in the Roman Catholic Church) relating to the Pope.

    ‘a pontifical commission’
    • ‘The Catholic Church and the pontifical council are at the epicenter of ecumenism for many reasons, not least because well over half the Christians in the world are Catholics.’
    • ‘The Pope puts on his pontifical clericals - white soutane and skull cap.’
    • ‘A few years ago I had a part in interesting the late Cardinal O'Connor and Cardinal Cassidy, then head of the pontifical council for Christian unity, in the Bruderhof's desire for a closer relationship with the Catholic Church.’
    • ‘He set up the pontifical commission Ecclesia Dei (Church of God) to cater for supporters of the Tridentine Mass.’
    • ‘More important, having been taught at university to question everything, to take nothing ‘on faith,’ they are quick to criticize pontifical pronouncements.’
  • 2Characterized by a pompous and superior air of infallibility.

    ‘such explanations were greeted with pontifical disdain’
    • ‘It is almost quaint that Isaacson, as he deconstructs the polemical and pontifical Time, is still thinking about people having debates and of journalism as the basis for social discourse.’
    • ‘It would be far better to have sharply contrasted views in succession, in alteration, than to have this copious stream of pontifical, anonymous mugwumpery with which we have been dosed for so long.’
    • ‘Ives totally mistrusted the cosmopolitan musical circles with their classic-worshipping conductors, snobbish patrons, and pontifical music critics.’
    • ‘In a less pontifical mood, he agreed that his writing was ‘trivial.’’
    • ‘An era of incorporation fostered a pontifical tone in American arts criticism.’
    • ‘Direct bribery was also common, and represented a massive outlay - in the late 60s, Caesar had accumulated debts of several thousand talents due to his aedileship, his praetorian campaign, and his pontifical campaign.’
    • ‘As with many pontifical statements, careful parsing of the message and interpretation of its meaning will be required before most hospitals change any of their rules for inpatient or hospital care.’
    pompous, cocksure, self-important, arrogant, superior
    opinionated, dogmatic, doctrinaire, dictatorial, authoritarian, domineering
    intolerant, prejudiced, biased, bigoted
    adamant, obstinate, stubborn, pig-headed, bull-headed, obdurate, of fixed views, headstrong, wilful, single-minded, rigid, inflexible, uncompromising, unyielding
    View synonyms

noun

rare
  • 1(in the Roman Catholic Church) an office book of the Western Church containing rites to be performed by the Pope or bishops.

    • ‘The Pontifical arranged by them served therefore as the basis for the Roman Pontifical of the Council of Trent published for the Latin Church in 1595-1596.’
    • ‘In the recent revision of this part of the Pontifical a deliberate choice was made in this respect.’
    1. 1.1The vestments and insignia of a bishop, cardinal, or abbot.
      ‘a bishop in full pontificals’
      • ‘The pontificals common to all are eight in number: buskins, sandals, gloves, dalmatic, tunicle, ring, pectoral cross, and mitre.’
      • ‘But more strictly and accurately, rubricians limit the pontificals to those ornaments which a prelate wears in celebrating pontifically.’

Origin

Late Middle English: from Latin pontificalis, from pontifex (see pontifex).

Pronunciation:

pontifical

/pänˈtifik(ə)l/