Definition of pontiff in English:
- The Vatican said the pontiff has been cured of the flu-related breathing problems that landed him there.
- The Pope made history yesterday by becoming the first pontiff to cross the Tiber to address the Italian parliament.
- The last pope to hold the name of Benedict was an Italian whose reign from 1914 to 1922 encompassed World War I.
Referring to the pope, this word is from French pontife, from Latin pontifex meaning literally ‘bridge-maker’ but used in ancient Rome as a term for a member of the principal college of priests. This also gives us pontificate (Late Middle English). The use ‘express opinions in a pompous way’ dates from the early 19th century. The same pont- ‘bridge’ element is found in pontoon (late 16th century). See also at punt
- British & World English dictionary
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