- a combining form meaning “first,” “foremost,” “earliest form of,” used in the formation of compound words (protomartyr; protolithic; protoplasm), specialized in chemical terminology to denote the first of a series of compounds, or the one containing the minimum amount of an element.
Also especially before a vowel, prot-.
Origin of proto-
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
sometimes before a vowel prot-
- indicating the first in time, order, or rankprotomartyr
- primitive, ancestral, or originalprototype
- indicating the reconstructed earliest stage of a languageProto-Germanic
- indicating the first in a series of chemical compoundsprotoxide
- indicating the parent of a chemical compound or an elementprotactinium
from Greek prōtos first, from pro before; see pro- ²
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 proto-
before vowels prot-, word-forming element meaning "first, source, parent, preceding, earliest form, original, basic," from Greek proto-, comb. form of protos "first," from PIE *pre-, from root *per- (1) "forward, through" (see per).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
- First in time:prototype.
- First formed; primitive; original:protoplast.
- Having the least amount of a specified element or radical:protoporphyrin.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.