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[pon-tuh-feks] /ˈpɒn təˌfɛks/

noun, plural pontifices
[pon-tif-uh-seez] /pɒnˈtɪf əˌsiz/ (Show IPA). Roman Religion.
a member of the Pontifical College, which was presided over by a chief priest (Pontifex Maximus)
noun (pl) pontifices (pɒnˈtɪfɪˌsiːz)
(in ancient Rome) any of the senior members of the Pontifical College, presided over by the Pontifex Maximus

member of the supreme college of priests in ancient Rome, 1570s, from Latin pontifex “high priest, chief of the priests,” probably from pont-, stem of pons “bridge” (see pons) + -fex, -ficis, root of facere “make” (see factitious). If so, the word originally meant “bridge-maker,” or “path-maker.”

Weekley points out that, “bridge-building has always been regarded as a pious work of divine inspiration.” Or the term may be metaphoric of bridging the earthly world and the realm of the gods. Other suggestions trace it to Oscan-Umbrian puntis “propitiary offering,” or to a lost Etruscan word, in either case altered by folk etymology to resemble the Latin for “bridge-maker.” In Old English, pontifex is glossed in the Durham Ritual (Old Northumbrian dialect) as brycgwyrcende “bridge-maker.”


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    [pon-tif] /ˈpɒn tɪf/ noun 1. any pontifex. 2. any high or chief priest. 3. Ecclesiastical. /ˈpɒntɪf/ noun 1. a former title of the pagan high priest at Rome, later used of popes and occasionally of other bishops, and now confined exclusively to the pope n. c.1600, “high priest,” from French pontif (early 16c.), from Latin […]

  • Pontific

    [pon-tif-ik] /pɒnˈtɪf ɪk/ adjective, Archaic. 1. .

  • Pontifical

    [pon-tif-i-kuh l] /pɒnˈtɪf ɪ kəl/ adjective 1. of, relating to, or characteristic of a ; papal. 2. pompous, dogmatic, or pretentious: to resent someone’s pontifical manner. noun 3. (in the Western Church) a book containing the forms for the sacraments and other rites and ceremonies to be performed by bishops. 4. pontificals, the vestments and […]

  • Pontifical-college

    noun 1. the chief body of priests in ancient Rome. noun (RC Church) 1. a major theological college under the direct control of the Roman Curia 2. the council of priests, being the chief hieratic body of the Church

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