Definition of apotropaic in English:



  • Supposedly having the power to avert evil influences or bad luck.

    ‘apotropaic statues’
    • ‘Before collectivisation in the 1930s destroyed the traditional social pattern of village life, the peasant wedding was a complex rite of passage which included many apotropaic rituals.’
    • ‘These names are considered to have apotropaic power to protect the new-born from the evil eye.’
    • ‘The pattern of going to the spas was the attempt of mostly healthy individuals to undertake a prophylactic cure or to make an apotropaic gesture towards disease and be seen spending rather large sums of money doing this.’
    • ‘These deviant beings, placed in the holiest part of the church, may well serve an apotropaic function; yet again, they embody models in nature to be avoided.’
    • ‘In Italy, this gesture is simply called ‘le corna’ (the horns) and is apotropaic when the fingers lie horizontally or point down, and is an insult when the fingers point up.’
    • ‘There is an unformulated suspicion, in short, that there is an apotropaic element in the motivation for prosecution, fear of allegations of inequality in procedure that might be made by the media or by parliamentarians.’
    • ‘He also notes that the motifs on these objects had apotropaic roles designed to protect their owners against status-degradation.’
    • ‘But as we shall see, the ‘feminine’ image so necessary to lyric's apodeixis reemerges in the ekphrasis as an apotropaic image: one which is both necessary to the epic project and marginalized by it.’
    • ‘In a sense, the apophatic call for judgment is an apotropaic imagining of judgment in the anthropomorphic terms available to us, inviting God to shatter such expectations in the gracious enactment of God's judgment.’
    • ‘Inasmuch as literary wounds take on the role of ‘talking cures,’ so too is storytelling apotropaic: it has the power to avert evil influence or ill luck.’
    • ‘Of the many apotropaic symbols presented in the exhibition, the most widespread is the distinctive bamada, a headgear identified as a symbol of the Komo, a religious institution with far-reaching influence in Bamana culture.’
    • ‘Was his extravagant creative production an apotropaic ritual that ultimately failed in its aim, or did the procession of his creature, so ferocious, but with a tinge of pathos to it, prove somehow overwhelming for him?’
    • ‘Her vigorous position, with one knee down and one up, coupled with the wings on her ankles, is illustrative of flight; her huge eyes and lolling tongue are apotropaic.’
    • ‘A circumambulation is a ritual which can be performed in different contexts: apotropaic, cathartic, and as rite of aggregation.’
    • ‘More apotropaic methods (techniques for turning evil away) included stuffing objects into the orifices of corpses or confronting the ambulatory blood-sucker with a crucifix.’
    • ‘The apotropaic powers of Arabic letters, phrases, verses, and writing themselves are central to Mouride belief systems and, indeed, Sufi mysticism more generally.’
    • ‘Maybe it's an apotropaic gesture, maybe one writes to ward off death.’
    • ‘The belief is especially prevalent today in the Mediterranean and Aegean, where apotropaic amulets and talismans are commonly sold as protection against the evil eye.’
    • ‘We can conclude that the incised patterns of the kunda and dibu bells, like those of the whisk, combine aesthetic astonishment with apotropaic function.’
    • ‘In fact most European magic was apotropaic, seeking to prevent, to protect, to repel.’


Late 19th century: from Greek apotropaios averting evil, from apotrepein turn away or from + -ic.