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See also: Pope and popé



Wikipedia has an article on:
Pope Pius VII, bishop of Rome, next to Cardinal Caprara. The Pope wears the pallium.

Alternative formsEdit


Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English pope, popa, from Old English pāpa, from Vulgar Latin papa (title for priests & bishops, esp. & by 8th c. only the bishop of Rome), from early Byzantine Greek παπᾶς (papâs, title for priests & bishops, especially by 3rd c. the bishop of Alexandria), from late Ancient Greek πάπας (pápas, title for priests & bishops, in the sense of spiritual father), from πάππας (páppas, papa, daddy).


pope (plural popes)

  1. (Roman Catholicism and generally) An honorary title of the Roman Catholic bishop of Rome as father and head of his church.
    • ante 950, translating Bede's Ecclesiastical History (Tanner), iv. i. 252
      Þa wæs in þa tid Uitalius papa þæs apostolican seðles aldorbiscop.
    • 1959 August 19, Flannery O'Connor, letter in Habit of Being (1980), 347
      The Pope is not going to issue a bull condemning the Spanish Church's support of France and destroy the Church's right to exist in Spain.
    • 2007 May 5, Ted Koppel (guest), Wait, Wait... Don’t tell me!, National Public Radio
      I really did want to interview the pope. Any pope. I'm not particular.
    1. (by extension, now often ironic) Any similarly absolute and 'infallible' authority.
      • 1689, G. Bulkeley, People's Right to Election in Andros Tracts (1869), II. 106
        We often say, that every man has a pope in his belly.
      • 1893 January 19, Nation (N.Y.), 46/3
        Burne-Jones... accepted him [Dante Gabriel Rossetti] as the infallible Pope of Art.
      • 1972 June 2, Science, 966/2
        Both [discoveries] were rejected offhand by the popes of the field.
      • 1978, Atlas World Press Review, volume 25, page 19:
        Above all, the SED reformers cite the progress inherent in the emancipation of Westem Communist parties from the "red popes in the Kremlin."
    2. (by extension) Any similar head of a religion.
      • c. 1400, John Mandeville, Travels (Titus C.xvi, 1919), 205
        In þat yle dwelleth the Pope of hire lawe, þat þei clepen lobassy.
      • 1787, A. Hawkins translating Vincent Mignot as The history of the Turkish, or Ottoman Empire, IV.
        Mufti, the Mahometan pope or chief of the religion.
      • 2005 April 6, Kansas City Star, b7
        Although Islam has no formal hierarchy of clergy, Tantawy [Egypt's grand imam] often is called the Muslim pope.
    3. (uncommon) A theocrat, a priest-king, including (at first especially) over the imaginary land of Prester John or (now) in figurative and alliterative uses.
    4. (Britain) An effigy of the pope traditionally burnt in Britain on Guy Fawkes' Day and (occasionally) at other times.
      • 1830, Alexander Pope, The Poetical Works of Alexander Pope, page xxi:
        This is the only piece in which the author has given a hint of his religion, by ridiculing the ceremony of burning the pope, and by mentioning with some indignation the inscription []
      • 2005, Gary S. De Krey, London and the Restoration, 1659–1683 ↑ISBN, page 182:
        As York's succession was challenged by burning the pope, the Duke of Monmouth was again heralded in the city as a Protestant alternative.
    5. (US, obsolete) Pope Day, the present Guy Fawkes Day.
  2. (Coptic Church) An honorary title of the Coptic bishop of Alexandria as father and head of his church.
  3. (Eastern Orthodoxy) An honorary title of the Orthodox bishop of Alexandria as father and head of his autocephalous church.
  4. (Christianity, historical, obsolete) Any bishop of the early Christian church.
    • 1563, 2nd Tome Homelyes, sig. Hh.i
      All notable Bishops were then called popes.
    • 1703, translating U. Chevreau as Hist. World, III. v. 379
      All Bishops in that time had the Stile of Pope given them, as now we call every one of them, My Lord.
  5. (Britain) The ruffe, a small Eurasian freshwater fish (Gymnocephalus cernua); others of its genus.
    • 1792, William Augustus Osbaldiston, The British Sportsman, Or, Nobleman, Gentleman and Farmer's Dictionary of Recreation and Amusement, page 176:
      Byfleet-river, wherein are very large pikes, jack, and tench ; perch, of eighteen inches long ; good carp, large flounders, bream, roach, dace, gudgeons, popes, large chub, and eels.
    • 1862, Francis T. Buckland, Curiosities of Natural History, page 230:
      It resembles the perch (unfortunately for itself) in having a very long and prickly fin on its back, advantage of which is taken by the boys about Windsor, who are very fond of 'plugging a pope.' This operation consists in fixing a bung in the sharp spines on the poor pope's back fin, and then throwing him into the water.
    • 1865 January 14, Astley H. Baldwin, "Small Fry" in Once a Week, page 105:
      Popes are caught whilst gudgeon-fishing with the red worm, but they are sometimes a great nuisance to the perch-fisher, as they take the minnow.
  6. (Britain regional, Cumberland, Cornwall, Devon, Scotland) The Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica).
    • 1759, "Linnæus's Systema Naturæ", The Gentleman's Magazine, page 456:
      Alca genus; 6 species, including the razorbill, the penguin, the pope, and others.
    • 1773, John Hill, "Alca", A General Natural History, volume 3, page 442:
      The Pope: This is a very singular bird; it is about the size of our widgeon, or somewhat larger, but is not quite so large as the duck: the head is large and rounded; the eyes are small, and stand forward on the head, and lower down than in the generality of birds [...]
    • 1822, George Woodley, A view of the present state of the Scilly Islands, page 264-5:
      "About a hundred yards further North" says Troutbeck, "is a 'subterraneous' cavern called the Pope's Hole, about fifty fathoms under the ground, into which the sea flows, so called from a sort of bird which roosts in it by night, about ninety feet high above the level of the water."!! [...] It derives its name from its being a place of shelter to some puffins, vulgo "popes".
    • 1864, Charles Issac Elton, Norway: The Road and the Fell, page 94:
      The Norsemen catch great numbers of these popes, parrots, or lunder, as they are variously named, and train dogs to go into the holes where the puffin has its nest, lying in it with feet in the air.
    • 1874, J. Van Voorst, Zoologist: A Monthly Journal of Natural History, page 3904:
      I was informed by a fisherman that there were now hundreds of gannets in the channel off Plymouth, and that he had also met with some puffins (which he called "popes")
  7. (US regional) The painted bunting (Passerina ciris).
    • 1771, M. Bossu, Travels Through that Part of North America Formerly Called Louisiana, volume 1, page 371:
      The Pope is of a bright blue round the head; on the throat it is of a fine red, and on the back of a gold green colour, it sings very finely and is the size of a canary bird.
    • 1806, Berquin-Duvallon, Travels in Louisiana and the Floridas, in the Year, 1802: Giving a Correct Picture of Those Countries, page 122:
      The birds [of Louisiana] are the partridge, cardinal and pope, and a species of mocking bird, called the nightingale.
    • 1821 Édouard de Montulé, A Voyage to North America, and the West Indies in 1817, page 54:
      [...] some others, such as the crow, the heron, and the wild goose, which are found in Europe, I also observed ; but the most beautiful are the pope bird, whose head seems bound with the most bright azure blue, and the cardinal, being entirely of dazzling scarlet [...]
  8. (rare) The red-cowled cardinal (Paroaria dominicana).
    • 1864 August 6, The Journal of Horticulture, Cottage Gardener, and Country Gentleman, page 100:
      From the sketch of the bird which you have sent us, there is no doubt about its being the Pope Grosbeak, which is a species of the Cardinal, but not the crested one.
    • 1883, William Thomas Greene, The amateur's aviary of foreign birds: or, How to keep and breed foreign birds, page 96:
      The Pope is a native of Brazil, and the female (it is altogether incongrouous to think of a lady pontiff) exactly resembles her mate.
    • 1895, A. A. Thom, "Dominican cardinals" in The Avicultural Magazine, page 128:
      SIR,—I should be glad to learn how to treat Pope birds (Crestless Cardinals) when nesting.
    • 1898, The Avicultural Magazine, Volume 4, page 87:
      Besides the Bicheno's Finches in this Class, the judge disqualified, in other Classes, a pair of Magpie Mannikins and a pair of Popes. These entries were presumably all disqualified on the ground that they were not true pairs: they are all birds in which the outward differences between the sexes (if there be any outward difference at all) are of an extremely slight and uncertain nature.
    • 1956, Foreign birds for cage and aviary, Volume 4, page 20:
      The wisest plan is always to keep the Pope Cardinal in an aviary, and to have only one pair to each aviary.
Usage notesEdit

In English usage, originally and generally taken to refer to the bishop of Rome, although the Egyptian title is actually older. Within the Coptic church, the patriarch of Alexandria is normally styled Pope ~; within the Eastern Orthodox church, their separate patriarch of Alexandria is formally titled Pope of Alexandria but referred to as such only in the liturgy and official documents.

Coordinate termsEdit
Derived termsEdit


pope (third-person singular simple present popes, present participle poping, simple past and past participle poped)

  1. (intransitive or with 'it') To act as or like a pope.
    • 1537, T. Cromwell in R. B. Merriman, Life & Lett. Cromwell (1902), II. 89
      Paul popith Jolyly, that woll desire the worlde to pray for the kinges apeyrement.
    • 1624, R. Montagu, Gagg for New Gospell? xiii. 95
      Vrban the eight, that now Popeth it.
    • 1966 February, Duckett's Reg., 14/2
      He would pope it in his own way, God guiding him.
    • 1989 September 24, Los Angeles Times, iii. 22/1
      I saw where the Pope poped and where the pigeons flocked. Pretty interesting if you're Catholic and like pigeons.
  2. (intransitive, colloquial) To convert to Roman Catholicism.
    • c. 1916, in Evelyn Waugh's Life R. Knox (1959), ii. i. 142
      I'm not going to ‘Pope’ until after the war (if I'm alive).
    • 1990 October 7, Sunday Telegraph, 26/5
      A prominent Anglican priest had, to use the term generally employed on these occasions, ‘Poped’—that is, left the Church of England in order to become a Roman Catholic.

Etymology 2Edit

By analogy with bishop (mulled and spiced wine).


pope (plural popes)

  1. (alcoholic beverages) Any mulled wine (traditionally including tokay) considered similar and superior to bishop.
    • 1855, C. W. Johnson, Farmer's & Planter's Encycl. Rural Affairs, 1157/1
      When made with Burgundy or Bordeaux, the mixture was called Bishop; when with old Rhenish, its name was Cardinal; and when with Tokay, it was dignified with the title of Pope.
    • 1920, G. Saintsbury, Notes on Cellar-bk., xi. 162
      Pope’, i.e. mulled burgundy, is Antichristian, from no mere Protestant point of view.
    • 1965, O. A. Mendelsohn, Dict. Drink, 264
      Pope, a spiced drink made from tokay..., ginger, honey and roasted orange.
    • 1976 January 15, Times (London), 12/8
      Many of these hot drinks have clerical names—Bishop being a type of mulled port, Cardinal using claret, and Pope Champagne.

Etymology 3Edit

From Russian поп (pop), from Old Church Slavonic попъ (popŭ), from Byzantine Greek παπᾶς (papâs) as above.


pope (plural popes)

  1. (Russian Orthodoxy) Alternative form of pop, a Russian Orthodox priest.
    • 1662, J. Davies translating A. Olearius as Voy. & Trav. Ambassadors, 139
      The other Ecclesiastical Orders are distinguish'd into Proto-popes, Popes, (or Priests) and Deacons.
    • 1756, Compend. Authentic & Entertaining Voy., V. 202
      Every priest is called pope, which implies father.
    • 1996 September 20, Daily Telegraph, 25/5
      In the non-Roman rites diocesan priests are often referred to as popes.

Etymology 4Edit

Of Onomatopoeic origin.


pope (plural popes)

  1. (US, dialectal, obsolete) The whippoorwill (Caprimulgus vociferus).
    • 1781, S. Peters, Gen. Hist. Connecticut, 257:
      The Whipperwill has so named itself by its nocturnal songs. It is also called the pope, by reason of its darting with great swiftness, from the clouds almost to the ground, and bawling out Pope!
  2. (US, dialectal, rare) The nighthawk (Chordeiles minor).
    • 1956, Massachusetts Audubon Soc. Bull., 40 81:
      Common Nighthawk... Pope (Conn[ecticut]. From the sound made by its wings while dropping through the air).





  1. feminine singular of pop

Haitian CreoleEdit


From French poupée



  1. doll



pope m (plural popes)

  1. (Russian Orthodoxy) pope (Russian Orthodox priest)



pope m (plural popes)

  1. (Russian Orthodoxy) pope (Russian Orthodox priest)