Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search


An illustration by Jacobus le Palmer of William of Nottingham II lecturing a group of students at either the University of Oxford or University of Cambridge, from a c. 1350 manuscript of his Commentary on the Gospels (MS. Laud Misc. 165, folio 149)

Alternative forms[edit]


From Latin tūtēlārius (guardian), from tūtēla (tutelage, guardianship; dependent, client) + -ārius (suffix denoting an agent of use); analysable as tutelar +‎ -ary.



tutelary (comparative more tutelary, superlative most tutelary)

  1. Relating to guardianship or protection.
    When a minor is involved, tutelary powers frequently accompany powers of attorney.
    • 1633, Peter Heylyn [i.e., Heylin], The Historie of that Most Famous Saint and Souldier of Christ Iesvs; St. George of Cappadocia: Asserted from the Fictions, of the Middle Ages of the Chvrch and Opposition of the Present. The Institution of the Most Noble Order of S. George, Named the Garter. A Catalogue of All the Knights thereof, from the First Institution, to this Present: As also of the Principall Officers thereunto Belonging, 2nd corrected and enlarged edition, London: Printed by Thomas Harper, for Henry Seyle [i.e., Seile] and are to be sold at his Shop, the signe of the Tygers-head in Saint Pauls Church-yard, OCLC 43142787, page 303:
      [I]n the firſt of Henry the ſixth, the Company of Armorers in London were incorporated by the name of the fraternite of Saint George: which queſtionleſſe reflected on him, though not as Patron ſpecially of this Realme of England, yet as the tutelarie Saint of militarie men. Elſe to what purpose ſhould the Armorers, whoſe trade is onely deſtinate to the uſe of Souldiers, be made a Corporation by his name, and under his protection.
    • 1747, “Book II. Chap. I. Of the Islands of Sicily, Crete, Samos, Rhodes, &c. to Their Becoming Subject to the Romans”, in An Universal History, from the Earliest Account of Time. Compiled from Original Authors; and Illustrated with Maps, Cuts, Notes, &c. With a General Index to the Whole, volume VIII, London: Printed for T[homas] Osborne, in Gray's-Inn; A[ndrew] Millar, in the Strand; and J. Osborn, in Pater-noster Row, OCLC 460848483, page 345, footnote (C):
      The iſland [of Lemnos] was conſecrated to Vulcan, whom the inhabitants worſhiped as their tutelary god. They were believed to have been the firſt blackſmiths, which gave the poets the occaſion to feign, that Vulcan, when he was thrown down from heaven, fell in the iſland of Lemnos, where he built his forge.
    • 1824, Walter Savage Landor, “Demosthenes and Eubulides”, in Imaginary Conversations of Literary Men and Statesmen, volume I, London: Printed for Taylor and Hessey, 93, Fleet-Street, and 13, Waterloo-Place, Pall Mall, OCLC 16418928, page 237:
      In our Athenian constitution, if we are weakly governed or capriciously, which hardly can happen, the mischief is transitory and reparable; one year closes it; and the people, both for its satisfaction and its admonition, sees that no corruption, no transgression, in its magistrates, is unregarded or unchastized. This, of all advantages, is the greatest, the most corroborative of power, the most tutelary of morals.
    • 1840, Alexis de Tocqueville; Henry Reeve, transl., “What Sort of Despotism Democratic Nations Have to Fear [book IV, chapter VI]”, in Democracy in America. Part the Second, the Social Influence of Democracy, volume II, London: Saunders & Otley, OCLC 557772461; republished as Phillip Bradley, editor, Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville: The Henry Reeve Text as Revised by Francis Bowen Now Further Corrected and Edited with Introduction, Editorial Notes, and Bibliographies by Phillips Bradley, volume II, 1st Borzoi edition, New York, N.Y.: Alfred A. Knopf, 1945, OCLC 916442432, page 319:
      Our contemporaries are constantly excited by two conflicting passions: they want to be led, and they wish to be free. As they cannot destroy either the one or the other of these contrary propensities, they strive to satisfy them both at once. They devise a sole, tutelary, and all-powerful form of government, but elected by the people. They combine the principle of centralization and that of popular sovereignty; this gives them a respite: they console themselves for being in tutelage by the reflection that they have chosen their own guardians.
    • 1850, William Wordsworth, “Book Eighth. Retrospect.—Love of Nature Leading to Love of Man.”, in The Prelude, or Growth of a Poet's Mind: An Autobiographical Poem, London: Edward Moxon, OCLC 1405711; republished as The Complete Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, authorized edition, London: Edward Moxon, Son, and Co., 44 Dover Street, Piccadilly, 1869, OCLC 727050730, page 491:
      [T]he goat-herd lived / As calmly, underneath the pleasant brows / Of cool Lucretilis, where the pipe was heard / Of Pan, Invisible God, thrilling the rocks / With tutelary music, from all harm / The fold protecting.
    • [1919], George Edward Woodberry, “Sonnets Written in the Autumn of 1914”, in G[eorge] H[erbert] Clarke, editor, A Treasury of War Poetry. British and American Poems of the World War, 1914–1919. Edited, with Introduction and Notes, by G. H. Clarke, London: Hodder & Stoughton, OCLC 774497872, sonnet VI, page 145:
      The tutelary genius of mankind / Ripens by slow degrees the final State, / That in the soul shall its foundations find / And only in victorious love grow great; / Patient the heart must be, humble the mind, / That doth the greater births of time await!
    • 1992, John M. Janzen, “Ideologies and Institutions in Precolonial Western Equatorial African Therapeutics”, in Steven Feierman and John M. Janzen, editors, The Social Basis of Health and Healing in Africa (Comparative Studies of Health Systems and Medical Care), Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, →ISBN, pages 214–215:
      There are two kinds of ancestral spirits. Some represent founders of the individual family, while others represent founders of the community, such as priests and kings. The spirits of founders of communities are called "territorial" or "tutelary spirits" in the literature for the region. Tutelary spirits cut across family lines because they belong to the community and are evoked on its behalf (generally only for rainmaking). They are associated with public proscriptions, and their propitiation is controlled by chiefs, kings, and priests.
    • 1992, Peter Murphy, “Socialism and Democracy”, in Peter Beilharz, Gillian Robinson, and John [F.] Rundell, editors, Between Totalitarianism and Postmodernity: A Thesis Eleven Reader, Cambridge, Mass.; London: MIT Press, →ISBN, page 25:
      The tutelary state is a protective and regulatory state. As De Tocqueville argued, the independent persons of the democratic age, when they find themselves vulnerable, look outward for assistance. They can't receive it from their equals, who are disinterested, so they look for it from the state. Yet the idea of equality forbids, absolutely, this state providing social guarantees in a politically despotic manner. That would re-introduce personal dependency in a new guise. Clientelism, patrimonialism, patronage would be returned. So a new kind of state is required. This is the administrative or tutelary state. It instantiates a new kind of rule—the rule of knowledge—and as we shall see in a minute—also a new kind of power or sovereignty—viz. Democratic Power or Democratic Sovereignty.
  2. Of or pertaining to a guardian.
    My uncle is always happy to discharge his tutelary responsibilities towards me.
    • 1612, Samuel Danyel [i.e., Daniel], “The Second Booke of the Historie of England: The Life of William I”, in The First Part of the Historie of England, London: [] Nicholas Okes, [], OCLC 222288853, page 84:
      [T]he Duke withdrew him to Roan, and from thence to the King of France, to craue his aid, putting him in minde of, the faithfull ſeruice his father had done him: how he was his homager, vnder his tutelarie charge, and had no other ſanctuary of ſuccour to flie vnto, in this caſe of his mutinous and turbulent nobilitie; the effect whereof was of dangerous conſequence to that Crowne.
    • 1920, F[rancis] Scott [Key] Fitzgerald, “Amory, Son of Beatrice [book I, chapter I]”, in This Side of Paradise, New York, N.Y.: Charles Scribner's Sons, OCLC 2340134:
      At St. Regis' Amory stayed three days and took his exams with a scoffing confidence, then doubling back to New York to pay his tutelary visit. [] [Monsignor Darcy] and Amory took to each other at first sight—the jovial, impressive prelate who could dazzle an embassy ball, and the green-eyed, intent youth, in his first long trousers, accepted in their own minds a relation of father and son within a half-hour's conversation.
    • 1952, Norman Lewis, Golden Earth:
      As we were deep in the Shan country, there were no more pagodas, but shrines had been erected on the town's outskirts to the tutelary spirits, and some of them were hung with votive offerings of puppet-horses.
  3. Having the qualities of a tutor.


Derived terms[edit]



tutelary (plural tutelaries)

  1. (religion, chiefly paganism) A deity or spirit serving as a guardian or protector of a place, person, culture, etc.; a tutelar, a tutelary deity.
    • 1895, L[aurence] Austine Waddell, “Pantheon and Images”, in The Buddhism of Tibet: or Lamaism, with its Mystic Cults, Symbolism and Mythology, and in its Relation to Indian Buddhism, London: W. H. Allen & Co., OCLC 903021728, page 361:
      The qualifications demanded in a tutelary are activity combined with power over the minor malignant devils. Thus most of the superior celestial Buddhas and Bodhisats may be, and are, tutelaries. But the favourite ones are the great demon-kings, []
    • 1906, Daniel Coit Gilman, Harry Thurston Peck, and Frank Moore Colby, editors, The New International Encyclopedia, volume XII, New York, N.Y.: Dodd, Mead & Company, OCLC 651226943, page 766:
      Thus, various Amerind tribes are devoted to foot-racing; yet the races are not tests of swiftness so much as divinatory or invocatory acts designed to appeal to tutelaries, and are usually set by seasons for planting or harvesting or hunting.
    • 1962, Jack Goody, Death, Property and the Ancestors: A Study of the Mortuary Customs of the LoDagaa of West Africa, London: Tavistock Publications, OCLC 8211112; republished as Death, Property and the Ancestors: A Study of the Mortuary Customs of the Lodagaa of West Africa, London: Routledge, 2004, ISBN 978-0-415-32984-2, page 210:
      A tutelary is not a special sort of spirit or shrine; the word refers either to a clan shrine, which is theoretically the same for all members, or to the specific shrine or ancestor indicated by a diviner as being a man's own guardian spirit. Each individual has such a tutelary, but will not be aware of its name unless a diviner has been consulted.
    • 1998, David H[eath] French; Kathrine S[tory] French, “Wasco, Wishram, and Cascades”, in Deward E. Walker, Jr., editor, Plateau (Handbook of North American Indians; 12), Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, →ISBN, page 460:
      To abate cold weather, the aid of tutelaries such as West Wind, Rain, and Thunder was invoked. Appropriate tutelaries might, upon appeal, bring snow upon enemies. During the Modoc War, a shaman acted to bring down the shielding fog against the army's advance.



Related terms[edit]

Further reading[edit]