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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 ask insightful questions during a discussion.
  • To show concern for the health of another.
  • 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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  • Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger earned the right to pontificate on pretty much anything he wants after he successfully landed US Airways Flight 1549 in Hudson River. OK, we kid, but when Sullenberger talks about air safety, we listen. —NPR
  • 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