Definition of phylactery in English:


nounPlural phylacteries

  • A small leather box containing Hebrew texts on vellum, worn by Jewish men at morning prayer as a reminder to keep the law.

    • ‘On the cross, Jesus wears the phylacteries of a devout Jew and holds the Torah scroll in his right hand.’
    • ‘Although not usually religious he grasped the Jewish artefacts, his phylacteries, in his jacket pocket.’
    • ‘While He did not oppose the use of phylacteries among His fellow Jews (unconverted Jews that is, Christian Jews didn't use them), He strongly rebuked those who merely wore them for show.’
    • ‘Their phylacteries and fringes were given as tactile reminders of who they are-covenant children of the uniquely sovereign God.’
    • ‘Nearby, you will frequently see a table set out with spare pairs of Tefillin - phylacteries.’


Late Middle English: via late Latin from Greek phulaktērion ‘amulet’, from phulassein ‘to guard’.