Word of the day: 2/20/15 – Pontificate

Word: Pontificate

You pronounce it: /n. pɒnˈtɪf ɪ kɪt, -ˌkeɪt; v. pɒnˈtɪf ɪˌkeɪt/

Definition: 

noun
1. the office or term of office of a pontiff.
verb (used without object), pontificated, pontificating.
2. to perform the office or duties of a pontiff.
3. to speak in a pompous or dogmatic manner:
“Did he pontificate about the responsibilities of a good citizen?”
4. to serve as a bishop, especially in a Pontifical Mass.

Origin:

1575-85; (noun) < Latin pontificātus; see pontifical, -ate3; (v.) < Medieval Latin pontificātus past participle of pontificāre to be an ecclesiastic

I read it: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

For today’s word, I’m guessing they mean it in terms of “dogmatic or pompous” in respect to the sentence below:

People pontificate, “Suicide is selfishness.” Career churchmen like Pater go a step further and call in a cowardly assault on the living. Oafs argue this specious line for varying reason: to evade fingers of blame, to impress one’s audience with one’s mental fiber, to vent anger, or just because one lacks the necessary suffering to sympathize. Cowardice is nothing to do with it – suicide takes considerable courage. Japanese have the right idea. No, what’s selfish is to demand another to endure an intolerable existence, just to spare families, friends, and enemies a bit of soul-searching.

Works Cited:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/pontificate

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