bull (papal letter)
bull [Lat. bulla=leaden seal], papal letter. As the diplomatic organization of the papal chancery progressed in the Middle Ages, the papal bull came to be more solemn than the papal brief or encyclical. The letter, traditionally sealed with lead, but in special circumstances with silver or gold, begins with the name of the pope and his title as servus servorum Dei [servant of the servants of God]. Today only the consistorial bull, the most solemn of all papal pronouncements, carries the leaden seal; all other bulls and lesser documents have a red ink seal. The titles of bulls are the first few words of its Latin text. Famous bulls include Clericis laicos (1296) and Unam sanctam (1302) issued by Boniface VIII in his struggle with Philip IV of France; the Bull of Demarcation (1493) by Alexander VI; Exsurge Domine (1520) by Leo X against Martin Luther; Unigenitus (1713) by Clement XI, against Jansenism; Dominus ac Redemptor (1773) by Clement XIV, suppressing the Jesuits; Quanta cura (1864) by Pius IX, introducing the Syllabus errorum; Pastor aeternus (1871) by Pius IX, on papal infallibility; and Munificentissimus Deus (1950) by Pius XII, defining the dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Pope John XXIII issued a consistorial bull, Humanae Salutis, in 1961 to convoke the 21st ecumenical council. The papal bull is used to proclaim the canonization of a saint. A bullarium is a collection of papal bulls; the most famous published bullaria are the Roman Bullarium (1733–62) and the Turin Bullarium (1857–85).
On the Stock Exchange, a person who buys shares hoping to sell them at a higher price later is known as a bull; the term is recorded from the early 18th century.
In Egyptian mythology, the god Apis was depicted as a bull, symbolizing fertility and strength in war.
The word dates from late Old English (in form bula, recorded in place names), and comes from Old Norse boli.
bull in a china shop a clumsy person in a situation calling for adroit movement; the phrase is recorded from the mid 19th century.
bull market a market in which share prices are rising, encouraging buying (compare bear market at bear2).
bull-roarer a sacred object of Australian Aboriginal ceremony and ritual, so called because of a fancied resemblance to a child's toy. A bull-roarer consists of a flat oval carved piece of wood, pointed at each end and pierced at one end; a string is threaded through the hole so that the bull-roarer can be swung round, making a booming noise. It is also known as a churinga.
Bull Run a small river in eastern Virginia, scene of two Confederate victories, in 1861 and 1862, during the American Civil War.
like a bull at a gate with the angry vigour of a bull charging a restraining (‘five-barred’) gate; the expression is recorded from the late 19th century.
take the bull by the horns take a firm grasp on a difficult issue; the expression is recorded from the early 18th century.
bull1 / boŏl/ • n. 1. an uncastrated male bovine animal: [as adj.] bull calves. ∎ a large male animal, esp. a whale or elephant. ∎ (the Bull) the zodiacal sign or constellation Taurus. 2. Stock Market a person who buys shares hoping to sell them at a higher price later. Often contrasted with bear2 . • v. [tr.] push or drive powerfully or violently: he bulled the motorcycle clear of the tunnel. PHRASES: take the bull by the horns deal bravely and decisively with a difficult, dangerous, or unpleasant situation. bull2 • n. a papal edict. bull3 • n. inf. stupid or untrue talk or writing; nonsense: much of what he says is sheer bull.
- Apis bull of Memphis, created in Osiris’ image. [Egypt. Myth.: Benét, 41]
- Buchis black bull worshiped as chief city god. [Egypt. Rel.: Parrinder, 52]
- Cretan bull sacred to Poseidon; sent to Minos. [Gk. Myth.: Kravitz, 68]
- Ferdinand daydreaming bull who refuses to fight in ring. [Children’s Lit.: The Story of Ferdinand ]
- Minotaur fabulous monster of Crete, half-bull, half-man. [Gk. Myth.: EB, VI: 922]
- Taurus constellation of the zodiac symbolized by the bull. [Astrology: EB, IX: 844]