Meaning of legate in English:


Pronunciation /ˈlɛɡət/

See synonyms for legate

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  • 1A member of the clergy, especially a cardinal, representing the Pope.

    ‘a papal legate arrived in France on a peacemaking mission’
    • ‘A papal legate was someone chosen by the pope to act on his behalf in a certain matter.’
    • ‘He also sent two papal legates over to England to negotiate these reparations.’
    • ‘Events came to a head in 1208 when a papal legate was assassinated near Carcassonne.’
    • ‘Luther was smarter and better prepared than the papal legate had anticipated.’
    • ‘He quarreled with the papal legate, Pelagius, and returned to Acre for a time in 1220.’
    • ‘Improvising hastily, the papal legate Guala is said to have crowned the new king with a chaplet of flowers.’
    • ‘The pope sent a legate, who entered into long negotiations that eventually involved the High Court as well.’
    • ‘John Paul II appointed Arinze to be the pontifical legate to other faiths, and to remind us that God is a God of joy.’
    • ‘Antonio Alati, bishop of Urbino, found himself papal legate in Scotland in 1437.’
    • ‘In the past it took months, if not years, for a papal legate to travel over the Alps to deliver authoritative Roman decisions.’
    • ‘He left Rome on 5 July 1463 when Bessarion was appointed as papal legate to the Venetian Republic.’
    • ‘Because of Damian's rhetorical skills and his knowledge of Canon Law, the Pope used him as his legate on several occasions.’
    • ‘Since this was in the nature of prophesy, the papal legate was able to insist that this showed clearly that the Church should be leading the Crusade.’
    • ‘It was traditional by this time that only this German king could also be crowned Holy Roman Emperor, though this could be done only by the pope or a papal legate.’
    • ‘Cardinal Marino was the papal legate to Perugia between 1535 and 1539.’
    • ‘A number of counts and other lords came with their forces, but the most significant and influential arrival was Cardinal Pelagius, a papal legate.’
    • ‘Other likely candidates are Simon of Brion, the papal legate, and Ranulph of Houblonnire, Tempier's future successor as bishop of Paris.’
    • ‘But Henry III was a peacemaker by temperament, and so was the papal legate, Ottobuono Fieschi, who arrived in England in October 1265.’
    • ‘However, by 1684 he had entered the service of Cardinal Benedetto Pamphili, with whom he remained until the latter's appointment as papal legate to Bologna in 1690.’
    • ‘The first recorded trace of Roman interference in Irish affairs was, apparently, at the Council of Rathbreasail in 1110, when a Papal legate dropped by to listen to the proceedings.’
    1. 1.1 archaic An ambassador or messenger.
      ‘In a dramatic confrontation the governor attempted to murder the emperor's legate but, failing to do so, committed suicide.’
      • ‘In 1906-8, he was a Norwegian legate to Britain.’
      envoy, emissary, agent, ambassador, representative, nuncio, commissioner, commissary, delegate, proxy, surrogate, deputy, spokesperson, plenipotentiary, messenger
      View synonyms
  • 2A general or governor of an ancient Roman province, or their deputy.

    ‘the Roman legate of Syria’
    • ‘Delegation was essential in so unwieldy an entity, and, like his predecessors, Augustus appointed senatorial legates and equestrian prefects to serve his imperium.’
    • ‘He also placed them under equestrian prefects instead of the traditional senatorial legates and placed a Christian symbol on their standards.’
    • ‘He went to great lengths to flatter the corrupt Roman legate and convince him that he and his tribe, the Cherusci, were friends and allies of Rome.’
    • ‘Each legion was commanded by a legate supported by a senior tribune, Roman aristocrats whose career included a range of both civilian and military tasks and who served with a legion for a few years.’
    • ‘‘There was another thing about Caesar,’ thought the legate.’


Late Old English, from Old French legat, from Latin legatus, past participle of legare ‘depute, delegate, bequeath’.