encyclical

[en-sik-li-kuhl, -sahy-kli-]
noun
1.
Roman Catholic Church. a letter addressed by the pope to all the bishops of the church.
adjective
2.
(of a letter) intended for wide or general circulation; general.
Also, encyclic.


Origin:
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

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World English Dictionary
encyclical (ɛnˈsɪklɪkəl)
 
n
1.  a letter sent by the pope to all Roman Catholic bishops throughout the world
 
adj
2.  (of letters) intended for general or wide circulation
 
[C17: from Late Latin encyclicus, from Greek enkuklios general, from kuklos circle]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

encyclical
"letter sent by the Pope to all the bishops," 1647, from L.L. encyclicus, from L. encyclius, from Gk. enkyklios "in a circle, circular" (see encyclopedia).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
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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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

encyclical

pastoral letter written by the pope for the whole Roman Catholic church on matters of doctrine, morals, or discipline. Although formal papal letters for the entire church were issued from the earliest days of the church, the first commonly called an encyclical was Ubi primum, dealing with episcopal duties, published by Benedict XIV in 1740. Only from the time of Pius IX (1846-78) have encyclicals been frequently used. Encyclicals are normally addressed to the bishops of the church, but a few (notably Pacem in terris by John XXIII) have been addressed also to "all men of good will." The formal title of an encyclical consists of the first few words of the official text; the language is usually Latin, and the document is not considered to be infallible.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
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.
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