[ proh-tee-uh n, proh-tee- ]
/ ˈproʊ ti ən, proʊˈti- /


readily assuming different forms or characters; extremely variable.
changeable in shape or form, as an amoeba.
(of an actor or actress) versatile; able to play many kinds of roles.
(initial capital letter) of, relating to, or suggestive of Proteus.

Origin of protean

First recorded in 1590–1600; Prote(us) + -an

Related forms

pro·te·an·ism, noun

Can be confused

protean protein Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for protean

British Dictionary definitions for protean


/ (prəʊˈtiːən, ˈprəʊtɪən) /


readily taking on various shapes or forms; variable

Word Origin for protean

C16: from Proteus
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

Medicine definitions for protean


[ prōtē-ən, prō-tē- ]


Readily taking on varied shapes, forms, or meanings.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.