Word of the DaySunday, April 08, 2012
\ap-uh-truh-PEY-ik\ , adjective;
Intended to ward off evil.
Ritualistic behaviour used as an apotropaic to ward off private demons, yes. Except to Raymond there's danger everywhere.
-- Leonore Fleischer, Rain Man
In an older kind of fairy story, the magic of the flowers would be potent but unspecified, vaguely apotropaic.
-- Anthony Burgess, J.G. Ballard, "Introduction," The Best Short Stories of J.G. Ballard
Apotropaic came into common usage in the 1880s. It comes from the Greek word apotrópai meaning "averting evil."
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