AskDefine | Define papist

Dictionary Definition

papist adj : of or relating to or supporting Romanism; "the Roman Catholic Church" [syn: Roman, r.c., Romanist, romish, Roman Catholic, popish, papistic, papistical] n : a Roman Catholic who is a strong advocate of the papacy

User Contributed Dictionary




Latin; papa—pope + English suffix -ist


  1. (derogatory): used by some Protestants in referring to Roman Catholics, whose loyalties are seen to be with the papacy in Rome.



Extensive Definition

Papist is a term, usually disparaging or an anti-Catholic slur, referring to a member of the Catholic Church. It was coined during the English Reformation to indicate that a Christian's loyalties were to the Pope, rather than to the anti-papal Church of England. Over time, however, it came to mean one who supported Papal authority over all Christians and thus became a popular term, especially among Anglicans and Presbyterians. The word, dating from A.D. 1534, derives via Middle French from Latin papa, meaning "Pope".
The word was in common use until the mid-nineteenth century; it occurs frequently in Macaulay's History of England from the Accession of James II, and in other historical or controversial works from that period. It survives in the British legal system one of the surviving relics of the Penal Laws, Catholic ineligibility to the throne under the current law of the United Kingdom. Under the Act of Settlement enacted in 1701 and still in force, no one who professes "the popish religion" or marries "a papist" may succeed to the throne of the United Kingdom. Fears that Catholic secular leaders would be Anti-Protestant arose during the suppression of the Catholic Church in England during the reign of Henry VIII and the subsequent persecution of Protestants during the reign of the Catholic Mary I of England.
Currently loyalty to the Pope is sometimes indicated by the newer term "Papalism" with no pejorative intended.
Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) author of Gulliver's Travels, frequently uses the term in his satirical work A Modest Proposal in which he proposes selling Irish children to wealthy English landlords for cannibilistic purposes.
During the 1928 US presidential election, Democratic Party nominee Al Smith was accused of being a papist. He was the first Catholic to ever receive presidential nomination from a major party and this led to fears that, if he were elected, the United States would be ruled by the Vatican.
The term – and the related words "popery", "papistry" and "popish" – is still used occasionally today by some writers and preachers who do not agree with Catholicism.


papist in Danish: Papisme
papist in German: Papist
papist in Spanish: Papismo
papist in French: Papisme
papist in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Papista
papist in Dutch: Papisme
papist in Norwegian: Papist
papist in Polish: Papizm
papist in Portuguese: Papismo
papist in Swedish: Papism
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