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n. pl. phy·lac·ter·ies Judaism
Either of two small leather boxes, each containing strips of parchment inscribed with quotations from the Hebrew Scriptures, traditionally worn strapped to the forehead and the left arm by Jewish men during morning worship, except on the Sabbath and holidays.

[Middle English filaterie, philacterie, from Old French filatiere, from Late Latin phylactērium, from Greek phulaktērion, guard's post, safeguard, phylactery, from phulaktēr, guard, from phulax, phulak-.]


n, pl -teries
1. (Judaism) Judaism (usually plural) Also called: Tefillah either of the pair of blackened square cases containing parchments inscribed with biblical passages, bound by leather thongs to the head and left arm, and worn by Jewish men during weekday morning prayers
2. a reminder or aid to remembering
3. archaic an amulet or charm
[C14: from Late Latin phylactērium, from Greek phulaktērion outpost, from phulax a guard]


(fɪˈlæk tə ri)

n., pl. -ter•ies.
1. Judaism. either of two small black leather cubes containing pieces of parchment inscribed with specific Biblical verses: worn by Orthodox or Conservative Jewish men during weekday morning prayers, one usu. strapped to the left arm, the other to the head above the hairline.
2. (in the early Christian church) a receptacle containing a holy relic.
3. an amulet or charm.
[1350–1400; Middle English philaterie < Medieval Latin philatērium, Late Latin phylactērium < Greek phylaktḗrion outpost, safeguard, amulet =phylak-, s. of phylássein to protect, guard + -tērion n. suffix of place]
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.phylactery - (Judaism) either of two small leather cases containing texts from the Hebrew Scriptures (known collectively as tefillin)phylactery - (Judaism) either of two small leather cases containing texts from the Hebrew Scriptures (known collectively as tefillin); traditionally worn (on the forehead and the left arm) by Jewish men during morning prayer
Judaism - the monotheistic religion of the Jews having its spiritual and ethical principles embodied chiefly in the Torah and in the Talmud
reminder - a message that helps you remember something; "he ignored his wife's reminders"


A small object worn or kept for its supposed magical power:


[fɪˈlæktərɪ] Nfilacteria f
References in classic literature ?
Next morning, Miss Scatcherd wrote in conspicuous characters on a piece of pasteboard the word "Slattern," and bound it like a phylactery round Helen's large, mild, intelligent, and benign- looking forehead.
And black calfskin-encased phylactery prayer boxes were now fastened by leather thongs to his forehead as well as woven around his left arm and hand; the box at his scalp had a tiny trickle of smoke that smelled of fired tobacco leaves seeping from its base where it touched his skin, rising to the fluorescent-lighted ceiling of the banquet hall.
Since the forehead is seen as the site of one's intellect and capacity for understanding, it is where the phylactery of the head is to be worn.