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Apr 11, 2005
This week's theme
Words relating to religion

This week's words
pontificate
colporteur
catholicity
hagiarchy
latitudinarian

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Religion can help us be kind, sincere, and honest. But all too often we cherry-pick its teachings to condemn those we don't agree with. Religion also comes handy in other less-than-sublime purposes. What could be better than exploiting religion for a politician to sway people and strengthen his hold on power?

As many rivers flow to merge in one ocean, many paths for spiritual enlightenment can achieve the same goal. The problem begins when we want to portray our religion as the best: "mine is the one true religion and all others are false." Such religious fervor leads to endless violence. No other cause in human history has resulted in as many killings.

If we could remember that God doesn't live in a church, temple, or mosque, there would be no need to preach to anyone, no need to save anyone's soul. The best we can do is save ourselves and improve our own lives and/or after-lives. Imagine a world where we don't feel a need to condemn anyone because "the book of my religion says so."

Now that I'm done pontificating, let's see this week a few words relating to religion.

pontificate

Pronunciation RealAudio

pontificate (pon-TIF-i-kayt) verb intr.

To speak in a pompous and dogmatic manner.

[From Medieval Latin pontificatus, past participle of pontificare (to be an ecclesiastic), from ponti-, from pons (bridge) + facere (to make).

So a pontifex (priest) was literally a bridge-maker between here and the hereafter. The verb pontificate comes from the reputation of a priest to speak bombastically.

This term ultimately originated from the Indo-European root pent- (to tread) that gave us other words such as English find, Dutch pad (path), French pont (bridge), and Russian sputnik (traveling companion).]

The word pontificate is pronounced as pon-TIF-i-kit when used as a noun to denote the office of a pontiff.

See more usage examples of pontificate in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

"[The media] reported it and they pontificated sagely in their editorials that something should be done."
Judge Hlophe's Red Herring; Cape Business News (South Africa); Mar 16, 2005.

X-Bonus

Time wears away error and polishes truth. -Gaston Pierre Marc, Duc de Levis, writer (1764-1830)

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