The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Phylactery \Phy*lac"ter*y\, n.; pl. Phylacteries. [OE.
filateri, OF. filatire, filatiere, F. phylact[`e]re, L.
phylacterium, Gr. fylakth`rion, fr. fylakth`r a watcher,
guard, fyla`ssein to watch, guard. Cf. Philatory.]
1. Any charm or amulet worn as a preservative from danger or
2. A small square box, made either of parchment or of black
calfskin, containing slips of parchment or vellum on which
are written the scriptural passages Exodus xiii. 2-10, and
11-17, Deut. vi. 4-9, 13-22. They are worn by Jews on the
head and left arm, on week-day mornings, during the time
of prayer. --Schaff-Herzog Encyc.
3. Among the primitive Christians, a case in which the relics
of the dead were inclosed.
Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary:
(Gr. phulakteria; i.e., "defences" or "protections"), called by
modern Jews tephillin (i.e., "prayers") are mentioned only in
Matt. 23:5. They consisted of strips of parchment on which were
inscribed these four texts: (1.) Ex. 13:1-10; (2.) 11-16; (3.)
Deut. 6:4-9; (4.) 11:18-21, and which were enclosed in a square
leather case, on one side of which was inscribed the Hebrew
letter shin, to which the rabbis attached some significance.
This case was fastened by certain straps to the forehead just
between the eyes. The "making broad the phylacteries" refers to
the enlarging of the case so as to make it conspicuous. (See FRONTLETS.)
Another form of the phylactery consisted of two rolls of
parchment, on which the same texts were written, enclosed in a
case of black calfskin. This was worn on the left arm near the
elbow, to which it was bound by a thong. It was called the
"Tephillah on the arm."
Hitchcock's Bible Names Dictionary (late 1800's):
Phylacteries, things to be especially observed