1. Relating to, characteristic of, or suitable for a pontiff.
2. Pompously dogmatic or self-important; pretentious.
1. pontificals The vestments and insignia of a bishop.
2. A book of forms for ceremonies performed by a bishop.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin pontificālis, of a pontifex, from pontifex, pontific-, pontifex; see PONTIFEX.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.