Printable Version
Pronunciation: sæk-êr-dot-êl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Priestly, characteristic of a priest or the priesthood.

Notes: Sacerdotal comes with a large entourage of related words. Of course there is the adverb, sacerdotally, but we find two options for a noun: sacerdotalness and sacerdotality. There is another noun, sacerdotalism "the sacerdotal spirit" or "the belief that priests have special powers".

In Play: Today's Good Word means connected to priests or the priesthood in any way whatsoever: "Sacerdotal marriage is considered incompatible with Roman Catholic theology, though priestly marriage is tolerated in the Orthodox Church." Anywhere you feel comfortable with priestly, you may substitute today's word to give your speech a bit of gravitas: "Phil Anders left the priesthood because the sacerdotal life didn't suit him."

Word History: This word comes directly from Old French sacerdotal, inherited from Latin sacerdotalis "of or pertaining to a priest". Sacerdotalis, in turn, comes from a former compound noun, sacra "sacrifices" + do-, a variant of da- in dare "to give, offer" + -alis, an adjective suffix, that is, "one who offers sacrifices". This word also appears with a Fickle N in sanctus "sacred". The root of this word we find in the English borrowings from French and Latin sacrosanct, sanctify and (inner) sanctum. Saint, of course, is the French word for "holy", which appears before the name of all the saints: Saint Pierre "holy Peter", Saint Bernard "holy Bernard". (We must now thank Doug Shulek-Miller for recommending today's sacerdotal Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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