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  • Verb

pontificate

pon-TIF-i-kayt

Context
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Marian has turned some of her friends away because she pontificates or preaches too much about health! Just yesterday her friend Alice was eating a strawberry when Marian got right in her face and started pontificating and lecturing her on the ill effects of pesticides. This pontificating made Alice uncomfortable, so she decided to just go home rather than listen to Marian’s heavy sermon. Marian seems to think she’s right all the time, so she pontificates and always seems to think her opinion is the only one that matters.

Quiz: What does it mean to pontificate?

  • To show concern for the health of another.
  • To make one’s friends angry by talking too much.
  • To lecture instead of just stating an opinion.

Memory Hook
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Cate's Ponytail Tiff Cate often got in tiffs, or fights with her mother, who always pontificated about why it was best for Cate to always wear her hair in a ponytail: "It won't get in your way, Cate!" she would always pontificate.

Examples
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  • 'Rome will grind to a halt to guarantee the full development of the demonstration of love for the pontificate, guaranteeing the maximum security for all the heads of state who will arrive to pay homage to the pope.' —The Washington Post
  • What precisely the pope prayed for is a matter between himself and his maker — but surely it involved healing between Christians and Muslims, an issue that has come to define his pontificate and his era. —Newsweek
  • Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the majors are ideal for the idle golf writer, as a parade of top players come to the air-conditioned press tent to pontificate on matters large and small. —Sports Illustrated
  • State premiers wheel and deal in the Bundesrat, the upper chamber of the federal parliament, to stymie government legislation they do not fancy or to pontificate on foreign policy, which is not supposed to be their affair. —The Economist

Word Ingredients
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pont bridge
fic make, do
-ate make something have a certain quality

A pontifex, or “high priest,” was the “maker of a bridge” between his “flock” and the divine. When a high priest pontificates, he “makes” the rules which people will listen and obey unquestionably.

Word Constellation
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Pontificate