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[pon-tif-uh-seez] /pɒnˈtɪf əˌsiz/

plural of .
[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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