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A high priest. Especially:

One of the sacred college, in ancient Rome, which had the supreme jurisdiction over all matters of religion, at the head of which was the Pontifex Maximus.

The pope.

Origin: F. Pontife, L. Pontifex, -ficis; pons, pontis, a bridge (perhaps originally, a way, path) _ facere = to make. Cf. Pontoon.