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[dih-kreet-l] /dɪˈkrit l/
pertaining to, of the nature of, or containing a decree or decrees.
a papal decree authoritatively determining some point of doctrine or church law.
Decretals, the body or collection of such decrees as a part of the canon law.
1350-1400; Middle English < Old French < Late Latin dēcrētālis fixed by decree, equivalent to dēcrēt(um) decree + -ālis -al1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for decretal
  • There is no further mention of that amount in either the adjudicatory or decretal part of the court's ruling.
British Dictionary definitions for decretal


(RC Church) a papal edict on doctrine or church law
of or relating to a decretal or a decree
Derived Forms
decretalist, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Old French, from Late Latin dēcrētālis; see decree
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
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Encyclopedia Article for decretal

a reply in writing by the pope to a particular question of church discipline that has been referred to him. In modern usage, such a document is referred to as a rescript (reply). Decretals issued in response to particular questions were authentic decisions for the case in question only and did not have the force of general law. This is true of rescripts in modern church law. Nevertheless, the decretals exercised enormous influence on the development and interpretation of church law because of their frequent application to the solution of analogous situations. At the same time, some decretals became general church law by decree of a pope.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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