9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[n. pon-tif-i-kit, -keyt; v. pon-tif-i-keyt] /n. pɒnˈtɪf ɪ kɪt, -ˌkeɪt; v. pɒnˈtɪf ɪˌkeɪt/
the office or term of office of a pontiff.
verb (used without object), pontificated, pontificating.
to perform the office or duties of a pontiff.
to speak in a pompous or dogmatic manner:
Did he pontificate about the responsibilities of a good citizen?
to serve as a bishop, especially in a Pontifical Mass.
Origin of pontificate
1575-85; (noun) < Latin pontificātus; see pontifical, -ate3; (v.) < Medieval Latin pontificātus past participle of pontificāre to be an ecclesiastic; see -ate1
Related forms
pontification, noun
pontificator, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for pontificate
  • Leo and Hilarius, and succeeded the latter in the pontificate in 497.
  • Maybe he's just a short man who needs to pontificate.
  • When they pontificate, people listen.
  • The precious politically correct never miss an opportunity to pontificate on topics about which they have no clue.
  • Don't put your fingers together and pontificate.
  • He gave Abdullah a 16th century print and a gold medal of his pontificate.
  • Rather than pontificate for an interviewer, he invited a give-and-take.
  • John Paul's pontificate was the third-longest in history.
  • Instead, the characters pontificate to the audience.
  • His pontificate marked a solidifying of discipline and thought, a time of reform and invention both.
British Dictionary definitions for pontificate


verb (intransitive) (pɒnˈtɪfɪˌkeɪt)
to speak or behave in a pompous or dogmatic manner Also (less commonly) pontify (ˈpɒntɪˌfaɪ)
to serve or officiate as a pontiff, esp in celebrating a Pontifical Mass
noun (pɒnˈtɪfɪkɪt)
the office or term of office of a pontiff, now usually the pope
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 pontificate

1818, "to act as a pontiff," from Medieval Latin pontificatus, past participle of pontificare "to be a pontifex," from Latin pontifex (see pontiff). Meaning "to assume pompous and dignified airs, issue dogmatic decrees" is from 1825. Meaning "to say (something) in a pontifical way" is from 1922. Related: Pontificated; pontificating.


1580s, from Latin pontificatus "office of a pontiff," from pontifex (see pontifex).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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