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[noun proh-test; verb pruh-test, proh-test] /noun ˈproʊ tɛst; verb prəˈtɛst, ˈproʊ tɛst/
an expression or declaration of objection, disapproval, or dissent, often in opposition to something a person is powerless to prevent or avoid:
a protest against increased taxation.
  1. a formal notarial certificate attesting the fact that a check, note, or bill of exchange has been presented for acceptance or payment and that it has been refused.
  2. the action taken to fix the liability for a dishonored bill of exchange or note.
  1. (upon one's payment of a tax or other state or city exaction) a formal statement disputing the legality of the demand.
  2. a written and attested declaration made by the master of a ship stating the circumstances under which some damage has happened to the ship or cargo, or other circumstances involving the liability of the officers, crew, etc.
Sports. a formal objection or complaint made to an official.
verb (used without object)
to give manifest expression to objection or disapproval; remonstrate.
to make solemn or earnest declaration.
verb (used with object)
to make a protest or remonstrance against; object to.
to say in protest or remonstrance.
to declare solemnly or earnestly; affirm; assert.
to make a formal declaration of the nonacceptance or nonpayment of (a bill of exchange or note).
Obsolete. to call to witness.
Origin of protest
1350-1400; (noun) Middle English < Middle French (French protêt), derivative of protester to protest < Latin prōtestārī to declare publicly, equivalent to prō- pro-1 + testārī to testify, derivative of testis a witness; (v.) late Middle English protesten < Middle French protester
Related forms
protestable, adjective
protester, protestor, noun
protestingly, adverb
protestive, adjective
half-protested, adjective
half-protesting, adjective
nonprotesting, adjective
reprotest, noun
reprotest, verb
unprotested, adjective
unprotesting, adjective
unprotestingly, adverb
5. complain. 6. asseverate, avow, aver, attest.
1. approval. 5. approve.
Synonym Study
6. See declare. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for protest
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • And before the trapper could make a protest he had drawn back into the horse shed.

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • His heavy voice rang out rebukingly, overtoned with protest.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • When, at last, words came, they were a frantic prayer of protest.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • His love was purely selfish, for he brushed aside her protest as if she had not spoken.

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • I can feel his eyes on me, and I cannot raise my voice in protest, for do not I countenance it?

    Thoroughbreds W. A. Fraser
British Dictionary definitions for protest


noun (ˈprəʊtɛst)
  1. public, often organized, dissent or manifestation of such dissent
  2. (as modifier): a protest march
a declaration or objection that is formal or solemn
an expression of disagreement or complaint: without a squeak of protest
  1. a formal notarial statement drawn up on behalf of a creditor and declaring that the debtor has dishonoured a bill of exchange or promissory note
  2. the action of drawing up such a statement
  3. a formal declaration by a taxpayer disputing the legality or accuracy of his assessment
a statement made by the master of a vessel attesting to the circumstances in which his vessel was damaged or imperilled
the act of protesting
under protest, having voiced objections; unwillingly
verb (prəˈtɛst)
when intr, foll by against, at, about, etc; when tr, may take a clause as object. to make a strong objection (to something, esp a supposed injustice or offence)
(when transitive, may take a clause as object) to assert or affirm in a formal or solemn manner
(when transitive, may take a clause as object) to put up arguments against; disagree; complain; object: ``I'm okay,'' she protested, he protested that it was not his turn to wash up
(transitive) (mainly US) to object forcefully to: leaflets protesting Dr King's murder
(transitive) to declare formally that (a bill of exchange or promissory note) has been dishonoured
Derived Forms
protestant, adjective, noun
protester, protestor, noun
protestingly, adverb
Word Origin
C14: from Latin prōtestārī to make a formal declaration, from prō- before + testārī to assert
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 protest

c.1400, "avowal, pledge, solemn declaration," from Old French protest (Modern French prôtet), from preotester, and directly from Latin protestari "declare publicly, testify, protest," from pro- "forth, before" (see pro-) + testari "testify," from testis "witness" (see testament).

Meaning "statement of disapproval" first recorded 1751; adjectival sense of "expressing of dissent from, or rejection of, prevailing mores" is from 1953, in reference to U.S. civil rights movement. First record of protest march is from 1959.


mid-15c., "to declare or state formally or solemnly," from Old French protester, from Latin protestari "declare publicly, testify, protest" (see protest (n.)). Original sense preserved in to protest one's innocence. Related: Protested; protesting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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