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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
  • For example, many animals such as the quail, the rabbit, or the leaf-butterfly are protectively colored.

    Being Well-Born Michael F. Guyer
  • She tended him so protectively that one might have thought her loving.

    Coquette Frank Swinnerton
  • Like many other protectively coloured animals, they are of sedentary habits, clinging to the weed, and seldom moving by day.

    The Life of Crustacea William Thomas Calman
  • The large majority of monkeys are protectively coloured with some shade of brown or grey, with specially marked faces.

  • This is a case upon which those who believe that eggs laid in open nests are protectively coloured would do well to ponder.

    Birds of the Plains Douglas Dewar
  • The entire frog family is as protectively colored as this least member, the cricket-frog.

    Wild Life Near Home Dallas Lore Sharp
  • Mr. Wallace even looks upon the nuts as protectively colored, because they are not to be eaten.

    Ways of Nature John Burroughs
  • Other protectively coloured insects look marvellously like green leaves or dead twigs.

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

    Earthsmith Milton Lesser
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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