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Proteus

[proh-tee-uh s, -tyoos]
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noun
  1. Classical Mythology. a sea god, son of Oceanus and Tethys, noted for his ability to assume different forms and to prophesy.
  2. a person or thing that readily changes appearance, character, principles, etc.
  3. plural pro·te·i [proh-tee-ahy] /ˈproʊ tiˌaɪ/. (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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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.

  • 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


British Dictionary definitions for proteus

Proteus

noun
  1. 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

Word Origin and History for proteus

Proteus

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

proteus in Medicine

Proteus

(prōtē-əs)
n.
  1. 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.

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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.