- Roman Catholic Church. a letter addressed by the pope to all the bishops of the church.
- (of a letter) intended for wide or general circulation; general.
- a letter sent by the pope to all Roman Catholic bishops throughout the world
adjective Also: encyclic
- (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.