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[pruh-tek-tiv] /prəˈtɛk tɪv/
having the quality or function of protecting:
a protective covering.
tending to protect.
Economics. of, relating to, or designed to favor protectionism:
protective tariffs.
defensive (def 4).
Origin of protective
First recorded in 1655-65; protect + -ive
Related forms
protectively, adverb
protectiveness, noun
nonprotective, adjective
nonprotectively, adverb
semiprotective, adjective
semiprotectively, adverb
unprotective, adjective
unprotectively, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for protectively
Contemporary Examples
  • He protectively brought it back to his room, where he fed it banana and gently wrapped it in a warm cloth.

Historical Examples
  • At the sight of Sophia, Riccardo rushed to her, looming over her protectively.

  • In short, they are protectively designed, while the first class are attractive.

  • He almost wanted to put his arm about the woman's shoulders, protectively.

    Earthsmith Milton Lesser
  • She tended him so protectively that one might have thought her loving.


    Frank Swinnerton
  • The large majority of monkeys are protectively coloured with some shade of brown or grey, with specially marked faces.

  • The entire frog family is as protectively colored as this least member, the cricket-frog.

    Wild Life Near Home Dallas Lore Sharp
  • Other protectively coloured insects look marvellously like green leaves or dead twigs.

  • In summer these birds are protectively colored; at times a female only a few feet away is hardly distinguishable from the tundra.

  • The eggs of the Did-he-do-it, then, are interesting as forming perfect examples of protectively coloured objects.

    Birds of the Plains Douglas Dewar
British Dictionary definitions for protectively


giving or capable of giving protection
(economics) of, relating to, or intended for protection of domestic industries
something that protects
a condom
Derived Forms
protectively, adverb
protectiveness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for protectively



1660s, from protect + -ive. As a noun from 1875. Related: Protectively; protectiveness. Protective custody is from 1933, translating German Schutzhaft, used cynically by the Nazis.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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