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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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A Word A Day — tutelary

Good morning, Netizens...

December 09, 2012

Word of the Day

  • tutelary
  • audio pronunciation
  • \TOO-tuh-lair-ee\


: having the guardianship of a person or a thing
: of or relating to a guardian

The ancient Romans revered certain gods and goddesses as tutelary deities.

"You can see a similar restlessness in the range of C.K.'s influences.... Indie film pioneer John Cassavettes may be another tutelary spirit." — From a review by Adam Wilson in, September 25, 2012


"Tutelary" derives from the Latin noun "tutelarius," meaning "guardian." "Tutelarius," in turn, was formed by combining the word "tutela" ("protection" or "guardian") and "-arius," a suffix that implies belonging and connection. A more familiar descendant of "tutela" in English might be "tutelage," which initially described an act or process of serving as a guardian or protector but has also come to refer to teaching or influence. If you suspect that "tutor" is also related, you are correct. "Tutelary" can also be a noun referring to a power (such as a deity) who acts as a guardian.

Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.