Also found in: Thesaurus.


Intended to ward off evil: an apotropaic symbol.

[From Greek apotropaios, from apotrepein, to ward off : apo-, apo- + trepein, to turn; see trep- in Indo-European roots.]

ap′o·tro·pa′i·cal·ly adv.


preventing or intended to prevent evil
[C19: from Greek apotropaios turning away (evil), from apotrepein; see apo-, trope]


(ˌæp ə trəˈpeɪ ɪk)

intended to ward off evil.
[1880–85; < Greek apotrópai(os) averting evil (see apo-, trope) + -ic]
ap`o•tro•pa′i•cal•ly, adv.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Adj.1.apotropaic - having the power to prevent evil or bad luckapotropaic - having the power to prevent evil or bad luck
lucky - having or bringing good fortune; "my lucky day"; "a lucky man"
References in periodicals archive ?
She covers current research on Roman dress, Late Antique society, cultural values in clothing: apotropaic practices, the life of clothes in Late Antiquity, and experimental knowledge of the wear and wearing of garments.
The state of abjection thus serves as an apotropaic, invoking divine grace--or at least forbearance--upon the community; rejecting that state, as does the witch, is therefore an essentially antisocial act.
Lamps, for instance, were sources of light in the barren darkness of the northwest and thus had apotropaic functions in addition to their guiding qualities.
Prison and Carcel reveal several of the intellectual and apotropaic sides of medieval manuscript culture.
Its apotropaic function, protecting subjects from any contagion, is thus pretty obvious, and now we know that the handkerchief operates as the immune shield.
Motifs shared by Near Eastern civilizations, such as the apotropaic eye, appear in works across the ages, whether carved into the fourth-century-bce idol mentioned above or woven into a Kurdish robe from the eighteenth or nineteenth century.
The symbols, also known as apotropaic marks, were carved onto stone or woodwork near entrances such as doorways, windows and fireplaces to protect inhabitants and visitors from witches and evil spirits.
During a time when belief in witchcraft and the supernatural was widespread, the symbols -&nbsp;also known as apotropaic marks -&nbsp;were believed to offer protection.
It also has the important benefit of bypassing the debate over the application thesis, against which many authors perform the common apotropaic ritual of warding off any psychoanalytic inquiry into their work.
Leinsdorf dismisses the rise of nationalism and racism with an apotropaic euphemism that describes these opinions as "unliebsame Erscheinungen offentlicher Natur" (MoE 204).
Metal is believed to have apotropaic powers since time immemorial.
It appears to have been an apotropaic symbol, but does not appear to be associated with a specific deity (van Buren 1945:117).