Definition of tutelary in English:


(also tutelar)


  • 1Serving as a protector, guardian, or patron.

    ‘the tutelary spirits of these regions’
    • ‘Indigenous and shamanic healers speak about the presence of and use of such tutelary spirits which are often personified and summoned while working with a patient.’
    • ‘The wall-text description of the latter as ‘display figures’ is questionable, since they are primarily tutelary deities to which devotees made regular votary offerings.’
    • ‘Death, a total vision for Masson, held sway over all things, and it became a tutelary divinity as he attempted to purify his soul and purge his memory of horrible events.’
    • ‘Stephanie is the tutelary spirit, guiding her heart, the reader's, and the heart of place; shepherding them through watersheds of ideas as well as landscape.’
    • ‘The discovery in Rome in 1599 of an embalmed body, supposedly of St Cecilia, the tutelary saint of music, elicited papal approval for the airs and madrigals of the age of Monteverdi.’
    • ‘But the tutelary divinity here is neither Thalia, the muse of comedy, nor Melpomene, the muse of tragedy, but Morpheus, the god of sleep.’
    • ‘Dickens himself was probably aware of a tutelary presence informing that new mood of Tennyson's early Victorian poetry.’
    • ‘For example, the cult of ancestors and tutelary spirits, which extend the community in time and space, contrasts with antisocial individualistic cults.’
    • ‘In Van Renterghem's words, Makine ‘chose to write in French to escape the tutelary shadows of his fatherland’ and Hector Biancotti likewise notes Makine's ‘power of freedom.’’
    • ‘According to Saint-Julien, Divio was founded by the emperor Aurelian to appease the tutelary gods of the Celtic settlement which he had recently destroyed.’
    • ‘St Giles is there as the tutelary saint of Baldung's patron, Canon Giles Haas, and may be a portrait of that dignitary, carrying his staff of office although dressed as a friar.’
    • ‘In every village, there are dozens of shrines to tutelary or guardian spirits.’
    • ‘The ritual known as Feis Temrach (Mating of Tara), where the King was mated with the tutelary goddess of Ireland, confirmed the monarch's sovereignty.’
    • ‘In many parts of China, the tutelary deity ‘tours’ the territory of the community he protects: in Fuzhou he often enters the ancestral halls to receive worship.’
    • ‘The Plural Genii refers to Roman Mythology - a tutelary deity or guardian spirit of a person or place.’
    • ‘We seek the fire, the influences, the tutelary spirits.’
    • ‘The imagery of a tutelary god and the concern with concrete blessings that are so central in religious practices in China have been and still are fashioning Xuwei's and many other Chinese congregants' understanding of Christianity.’
    • ‘This may be a sign from various tutelary deities that we are unwelcome here.’
    • ‘Such a vigil might involve fasting and an all-night experience outdoors, during which the initiate comes in direct contact with the gods, discovers his or her own power and connects with tutelary, totemic or guardian spirits.’
    • ‘Athens' tutelary goddess, Athena, refuses to grant Orestes sanctuary on her own authority; instead she creates the Areopagus Council as a citizen's court, and bids the Councillors to decide the justice of the matter.’
    1. 1.1 Relating to protection or a guardian.
      ‘the state maintained a tutelary relation with the security police’
      • ‘Astoundingly, this tutelary relationship between Britannia and Hibernia was represented on the notes of two Irish banks in the nineteenth century.’
      • ‘But the colonial anthropologist came to be in something of a tutelary relationship with a younger scholar from England.’
      • ‘The covenant implied that the ultimate goal of the tutelary relationship was to educate the colonial peoples to political independence.’


Early 17th century: from Latin tutelarius, from tutela ‘keeping’ (see tutelage).