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[en-sik-li-kuh l, -sahy-kli-] /ɛnˈsɪk lɪ kəl, -ˈsaɪ klɪ-/
Roman Catholic Church. a letter addressed by the pope to all the bishops of the church.
(of a letter) intended for wide or general circulation; general.
Also, encyclic.
Origin of encyclical
1610-20; < Late Latin encyclicus (< Greek enkýklios, with -icus -ic for -ios, equivalent to en- en-2 + kýkl(os) circle, cycle + -ios adj. suffix) + -al1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for encyclical
  • The long delayed encyclical on birth control badly eroded papal support.
  • No modern encyclical has ever been so severely criticized.
  • Popishly, they have issued an encyclical establishing the forbidden ground for editors and publishers alike.
  • There is neither an encyclical nor a catechism that spells out a political strategy for achieving legislative goals.
British Dictionary definitions for encyclical


a letter sent by the pope to all Roman Catholic bishops throughout the world
(of letters) intended for general or wide circulation
Word Origin
C17: from Late Latin encyclicus, from Greek enkuklios general, from kuklos circle
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for encyclical

in reference to a letter sent by the Pope to all the bishops, 1640s, from Late Latin encyclicus, from Latin encyclius, from Greek enkyklios "in a circle, circular" (see encyclopedia). As a noun, from 1837.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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encyclical in Culture
encyclical [(en-sik-li-kuhl)]

A letter from the pope to the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church, in which he lays down policy on religious, moral, or political issues.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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