1. Roman Catholic Church. a letter addressed by the pope to all the bishops of the church.


  1. (of a letter) intended for wide or general circulation; general.


  1. a letter sent by the pope to all Roman Catholic bishops throughout the world

adjective Also: encyclic

  1. (of letters) intended for general or wide circulation

in reference to a letter sent by the Pope to all the bishops, 1640s, from Late Latin encyclicus, from Latin encyclius, from Greek enkyklios “in a circle, circular” (see encyclopedia). As a noun, from 1837.

A letter from the pope to the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church, in which he lays down policy on religious, moral, or political issues.

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