[ proh-tag-uh-nist ]
/ proʊˈtæg ə nɪst /
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See synonyms for: protagonist / protagonists on Thesaurus.com


the leading character, hero, or heroine of a drama or other literary work.
a proponent for or advocate of a political cause, social program, etc.
the leader or principal person in a movement, cause, etc.
the first actor in ancient Greek drama, who played not only the main role, but also other roles when the main character was offstage.Compare deuteragonist, tritagonist.
Physiology. agonist.



In effect, this quiz will prove whether or not you have the skills to know the difference between “affect” and “effect.”
Question 1 of 7
The rainy weather could not ________ my elated spirits on my graduation day.

Origin of protagonist

First recorded in 1665–75; from Greek prōtagōnistḗs “actor who plays the first part,” literally, “first combatant,” equivalent to prôt(os) “first” + agōnistḗs “one who contends for a prize, combatant, actor”; see origin at proto-, antagonist
pro·tag·o·nism, noun
1. antagonist, protagonist 2. proponent, protagonist
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

British Dictionary definitions for protagonist

/ (prəʊˈtæɡənɪst) /


the principal character in a play, story, etc
a supporter, esp when important or respected, of a cause, political party, etc
protagonism, noun
C17: from Greek prōtagōnistēs, from prōtos first + agōnistēs actor
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

Cultural definitions for protagonist

[ (proh-tag-uh-nist) ]

The principal character in a literary work. Hamlet, for example, is the protagonist of the play by William Shakespeare that bears his name.

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.
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