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[pas-ter-uh l, pah-ster-] /ˈpæs tər əl, ˈpɑ stər-/
having the simplicity, charm, serenity, or other characteristics generally attributed to rural areas:
pastoral scenery; the pastoral life.
pertaining to the country or to life in the country; rural; rustic.
portraying or suggesting idyllically the life of shepherds or of the country, as a work of literature, art, or music:
pastoral poetry; a pastoral symphony.
of, relating to, or consisting of shepherds.
of or relating to a pastor or the duties of a pastor:
pastoral visits to a hospital.
used for pasture, as land.
a poem, play, or the like, dealing with the life of shepherds, commonly in a conventional or artificial manner, or with simple rural life generally; a bucolic.
a picture or work of art representing the shepherds' life.
Music. pastorale.
a treatise on the duties of a pastor.
a letter to the people from their spiritual pastor.
a letter to the clergy or people of an ecclesiastical district from its bishop.
Also called pastoral staff. crosier (def 1).
1350-1400; Middle English < Latin pāstōrālis, equivalent to pāstōr-, stem of pāstor (see pastor) + -ālis -al1
Related forms
pastorally, adverb
nonpastoral, adjective, noun
nonpastorally, adverb
semipastoral, adjective
semipastorally, adverb
unpastoral, adjective
unpastorally, adverb
Can be confused
pastoral, pastorale.
1. rustic, rural, simple. 3. bucolic, idyllic. 7. eclogue, idyll; georgic. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for pastoral staff


of, characterized by, or depicting rural life, scenery, etc
(of a literary work) dealing with an idealized form of rural existence in a conventional way
(of land) used for pasture
denoting or relating to the branch of theology dealing with the duties of a clergyman or priest to his congregation
of or relating to a clergyman or priest in charge of a congregation or his duties as such
of or relating to a teacher's responsibility for the personal, as the distinct from the educational, development of pupils
of or relating to shepherds, their work, etc
a literary work or picture portraying rural life, esp the lives of shepherds in an idealizing way See also eclogue
(music) a variant of pastorale
  1. a letter from a clergyman to the people under his charge
  2. the letter of a bishop to the clergy or people of his diocese
  3. Also called pastoral staff. the crosier or staff carried by a bishop as a symbol of his pastoral responsibilities
Derived Forms
pastoralism, noun
pastorally, adverb
Word Origin
C15: from Latin, from pastor
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 pastoral staff



"of or pertaining to shepherds," early 15c., from Old French pastoral (13c.), from Latin pastoralis "of herdsmen, of shepherds," from pastor (see pastor (n.)). The noun sense of "poem dealing with country life generally" is from 1580s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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pastoral staff in Culture

pastoral definition

A work of art that celebrates the cultivated enjoyment of the countryside. The poem “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love,” by Christopher Marlowe, is a pastoral. Its first stanza reads:

Come live with me, and be my love;
And we will all the pleasures prove
That hills and valleys, dales and fields,
Woods or steepy mountain yields.
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 Article for pastoral staff

staff with a curved top that is a symbol of the Good Shepherd and is carried by bishops of the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and some European Lutheran churches and by abbots and abbesses as an insignia of their ecclesiastical office and, in former times, of temporal power. It is made of metal or carved wood and is often very ornate. Possibly derived from the ordinary walking stick, it was first mentioned as a sign of a bishop's ruling power in 633 at the fourth Council of Toledo. French bishops adopted it in the late 8th century, and it was gradually adopted throughout Christendom. Originally a staff with a cross, sphere, or tau cross on top, it acquired its present form by the 13th century.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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