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[proh-tee-uh s, -tyoos] /ˈproʊ ti əs, -tyus/
Classical Mythology. a sea god, son of Oceanus and Tethys, noted for his ability to assume different forms and to prophesy.
a person or thing that readily changes appearance, character, principles, etc.
plural protei [proh-tee-ahy] /ˈproʊ tiˌaɪ/ (Show IPA). (lowercase) Bacteriology. any of several rod-shaped, aerobic bacteria of the genus Proteus, sometimes found as pathogens in the gastrointestinal and genitourinary tracts of humans. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for Proteus
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • That all this is true to Shakespeare appears from the fact that it is false to the character of Proteus.

    The Man Shakespeare Frank Harris
  • And what see I on any side but the transmigrations of Proteus?

    Essays, First Series Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • But the Sophist is the Proteus who takes the likeness of all of them; all other deceivers have a piece of him in them.

    Sophist Plato
  • By Proteus, the old shepherd of the seals, you slumber uneasily.

    Thais Anatole France
  • Proteus rescues her, and threatens to resume his suit with violence.

    William Shakespeare John Masefield
  • For it is Proteus who sends Menelaus back to the Gods whom he has neglected and offended.

    Homer's Odyssey Denton J. Snider
  • Stress is strongly laid by the poet upon the fact that Proteus is of Egypt.

    Homer's Odyssey Denton J. Snider
  • He will present a phase of life not known to the East, not known to Egyptian Proteus.

    Homer's Odyssey Denton J. Snider
  • The interpretations which the story of Proteus has received are simply infinite.

    Homer's Odyssey Denton J. Snider
British Dictionary definitions for Proteus


(Greek myth) a prophetic sea god capable of changing his shape at will
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 Proteus

c.1400, from Greek Proteus (see Protean).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Proteus in Medicine

Proteus Pro·te·us (prō'tē-əs)
A genus of gram-negative, rod-shaped aerobic bacteria of the family Enterobacteriaceae that includes certain species associated with human enteritis and urinary tract infections.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Proteus in Culture
Proteus [(proh-tee-uhs, proh-tyoohs)]

In classical mythology, a god who served Poseidon. Proteus could change his shape at will.

Note: Someone or something that easily takes on several different forms may be called “protean.”
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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