Definition of legate in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈleɡət/


1A member of the clergy, especially a cardinal, representing the Pope.
Example sentences
  • A papal legate was someone chosen by the pope to act on his behalf in a certain matter.
  • He also sent two papal legates over to England to negotiate these reparations.
  • Events came to a head in 1208 when a papal legate was assassinated near Carcassonne.
1.1 archaic An ambassador or messenger.
Example sentences
  • In a dramatic confrontation the governor attempted to murder the emperor's legate but, failing to do so, committed suicide.
  • In 1906-8, he was a Norwegian legate to Britain.
2A general or governor of an ancient Roman province, or their deputy: the Roman legate of Syria
More example sentences
  • Delegation was essential in so unwieldy an entity, and, like his predecessors, Augustus appointed senatorial legates and equestrian prefects to serve his imperium.
  • He also placed them under equestrian prefects instead of the traditional senatorial legates and placed a Christian symbol on their standards.
  • He went to great lengths to flatter the corrupt Roman legate and convince him that he and his tribe, the Cherusci, were friends and allies of Rome.



Pronunciation: /ˈleɡətˌSHip/
Example sentences
  • He also revoked Pole's legateship for England; there had been a long vendetta between the two men, and now Paul sought to summon his old enemy back to Rome and put him on trial as a heretic.


Pronunciation: /ˈleɡəˌtēn/
Example sentences
  • The army was deeply split; Pelagius used his legatine powers to overrule John.
  • However, although his legatine office busily creamed off profitable routine business from other church courts, he made few innovations.
  • Henry and Wolsey bludgeoned the pope into granting Wolsey the rank of legate a latere for life, which meant that he became the superior ecclesiastical authority in England, and could convoke legatine synods.


Late Old English, from Old French legat, from Latin legatus, past participle of legare 'depute, delegate, bequeath'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: leg·ate

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.