- Judaism. either of two small, black, leather cubes containing a piece of parchment inscribed with verses 4–9 of Deut. 6, 13–21 of Deut. 11, and 1–16 of Ex. 13: one is attached with straps to the left arm and the other to the forehead during weekday morning prayers by Orthodox and Conservative Jewish men.
- (in the early Christian church) a receptacle containing a holy relic.
- an amulet, charm, or safeguard against harm or danger.
Origin of phylactery
Examples from the Web for phylacteries
His devotions over, he hurriedly took the phylacteries from his head and hand.A Ghetto Violet
It was customary to tie certain kinds of phylacteries into a knot.Primitive Psycho-Therapy and Quackery
Robert Means Lawrence
The Jews had regard for their phylacteries, and the Greeks and Romans had their amulets.Chats on Household Curios
Fred W. Burgess
The phylacteries of the Jews were originally worn for the same purpose.Demonology and Devil-lore
Moncure Daniel Conway
I drink, I smoke on the Sabbath, I do not lay the phylacteries.Against the Current
Edward A. Steiner
- Also called: Tefillah Judaism (usually plural) either of the pair of blackened square cases containing parchments inscribed with biblical passages, bound by leather thongs to the head and left arm, and worn by Jewish men during weekday morning prayers
- a reminder or aid to remembering
- archaic an amulet or charm
Word Origin and History for phylacteries
late 14c., "small leathern box containing four Old Testament texts," from Old French filatiere (12c.) and directly from Medieval Latin philaterium, from Late Latin phylacterium "reliquary," from Greek phylacterion "safeguard, amulet," noun use of neuter of adjective phylakterios "serving as a protection," from phylakter "watcher, guard," from phylassein "to guard or ward off," from phylax (genitive phylakos) "guard," of unknown origin. Sometimes worn on the forehead, based on a literal reading of scripture:
Ye shall bind them [my words] for a sign upon your hands, and they shall be for frontlets between your eyes. [Deut. xi:18]