Definition of tutelary in English:


(also tutelar)


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

    ‘the tutelary spirits of these regions’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 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 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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘We seek the fire, the influences, the tutelary spirits.’
    • ‘But the tutelary divinity here is neither Thalia, the muse of comedy, nor Melpomene, the muse of tragedy, but Morpheus, the god of sleep.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The Plural Genii refers to Roman Mythology - a tutelary deity or guardian spirit of a person or place.’
    • ‘In every village, there are dozens of shrines to tutelary or guardian spirits.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This may be a sign from various tutelary deities that we are unwelcome here.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 1.1Relating to protection or a guardian.
      ‘the state maintained a tutelary relation with the security police’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Astoundingly, this tutelary relationship between Britannia and Hibernia was represented on the notes of two Irish banks in the nineteenth century.’


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