Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Judaism Either of two small leather boxes, each containing strips of parchment inscribed with quotations from the Hebrew Scriptures, one of which is strapped to the forehead and the other to the left arm; traditionally worn by Jewish men during morning worship, except on the Sabbath and holidays.
  • n. An amulet.
  • n. A reminder.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Either of the two small leather cases, containing biblical scrolls, worn by Jewish men at morning prayer; the tefilla.
  • n. Any small object worn for its magical or supernatural power; an amulet or charm.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Any charm or amulet worn as a preservative from danger or disease.
  • n. A small square box, made either of parchment or of black calfskin, containing slips of parchment or vellum on which are written the scriptural passages Exodus xiii. 2-10, and 11-17, Deut. vi. 4-9, 13-22. They are worn by Jews on the head and left arm, on week-day mornings, during the time of prayer.
  • n. Among the primitive Christians, a case in which the relics of the dead were inclosed.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A charm or amulet.
  • n. Specifically
  • n. In Jewish antiquity, an amulet consisting of a strip or strips of parchment inscribed with certain texts from the Old Testament, and inclosed within a small leather case, which was fastened with straps on the forehead just above and between the eyes, or on the left arm near the region of the heart. The four passages inscribed upon the phylactery were Ex. xiii. 2-10, 11-17, and Deut. vi. 4-9, 13-22. The custom was founded on a literal interpretation of Ex. xiii. 16, and Deut. vi. 8 and xi. 18.
  • n. Among the primitive Christians, etc., a case in which were inclosed relics of the saints.
  • n. Synonyms See defs. of amulet, talisman, and mezuzah.
  • n. See also tephillin.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. (Judaism) either of two small leather cases containing texts from the Hebrew Scriptures (known collectively as tefillin); traditionally worn (on the forehead and the left arm) by Jewish men during morning prayer

Etymologies

Middle English filaterie, philacterie, from Old French filatiere, from Late Latin phylactērium, from Greek phulaktērion, guard's post, safeguard, phylactery, from phulaktēr, guard, from phulax, phulak-.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Recorded since circa 1380, Middle English, philaterie, either from Old French filatiere (12c.), or via Medieval Latin philaterium, an alteration of Late Latin phylacterium ("reliquary"), from Ancient Greek φυλακτήριον ("safeguard, amulet"), via adjective φυλακτήριος ("serving as a protection"), from φυλακτήρ ("watcher, guard"), itself from φυλάσσω ("guard or ward off"), from φύλαξ ("a guard"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

Comments

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  • While most of us worship distractedly,
    We pray and are done with alacrity,
    Your earnest ascetic,
    Blessed but aesthetic,
    Accessorizes with a phylactery.

    March 17, 2014

  • There are in this library some very good books, left as a never-failing phylactery against the blue devils, when our gardens despoiled of Flora's treasure, and our woods of their leafy honours, shall no longer challenge those miscreant invaders to combat in the forest or the bower.

    - Lesage, The Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillane, tr. Smollett, bk 10 ch. 7

    October 9, 2008

  • But wait! Don't we have all the time in the world? NOW is pretty spacious, don'tcha know. The trick is to be able to do NOW things at once. See omnitaneity.

    August 11, 2007

  • I think I first read about phylacteries in Chaim Potok's novels. So many books, so little time!

    August 10, 2007

  • Hey, that's one of my favorites too! :-)

    August 10, 2007

  • I only only know this word from one place, one of my favorite parts of the Bible...

    "Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 'The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

    "'Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them "Rabbi."

    "'But you are not to be called "Rabbi," for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth "father," for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called "teacher," for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.'" (Matthew 23)

    August 10, 2007

  • Haha!

    August 10, 2007

  • Billy, put down that phylactery! We're Episcopalian!

    August 10, 2007