verb (used with object)

to defend or guard from attack, invasion, loss, annoyance, insult, etc.; cover or shield from injury or danger.
Economics. to guard (the industry or an industry of a nation) from foreign competition by imposing import duties.
to provide funds for the payment of (a draft, note, etc.).

verb (used without object)

to provide, or be capable of providing, protection: a floor wax that protects as well as shines.

Origin of protect

1520–30; < Latin prōtēctus, past participle of prōtegere to cover in front, equivalent to prō- pro-1 + teg-, stem of tegere to cover (akin to toga, thatch) + -tus past participle suffix
Related formspro·tect·i·ble, pro·tect·a·ble, adjectivepro·tect·i·bil·i·ty, pro·tect·a·bil·i·ty, nouno·ver·pro·tect, verb (used with object)qua·si-pro·tect·ed, adjectivesem·i·pro·tect·ed, adjectiveun·pro·tect·a·ble, adjectiveun·pro·tect·ed, adjectivewell-pro·tect·ed, adjective

Synonyms for protect

Synonym study

1. See defend.

Antonyms for protect

1. attack. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for protect

Contemporary Examples of protect

  • When our elected representatives assume their respective offices, they take an oath to “protect and defend the Constitution.”

    The Daily Beast logo
    Are Police Stealing People’s Property?

    Joan Blades, Matt Kibbe

    January 2, 2015

  • Luckily, Tor was prepared for this sort of assault, and has built-in defenses to protect against it.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Attack on the Hidden Internet

    Marc Rogers

    December 29, 2014

  • Such large sheets are common in Kobani, meant to protect fighters and civilians from the ever gazing eyes of ISIS snipers.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Brothers Who Ambushed ISIS

    Mohammed A. Salih

    December 27, 2014

  • Sometimes politicians oppose reform for nefarious reasons—to protect a special interest or a major donor, for example.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Can the U.S. Government Go Moneyball?

    Peter Orszag, Jim Nussle

    December 23, 2014

  • The NRA wants the ability to sue local officials for passing laws that protect public safety.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The NRA’s Twisted List for Santa

    John Feinblatt

    December 23, 2014

Historical Examples of protect

  • On his death-bed he charged his nephew to protect and cherish me as a sister.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • They were putting on outer clothes from the store-room to protect them from the dirt and damp.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Could he be asked to shield and protect her, or what would become of her?


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • We must protect her from the consequences of her own foolishness.

  • I prayed for forgiveness, and asked God to direct and protect me.

    Biography of a Slave

    Charles Thompson

British Dictionary definitions for protect


verb (tr)

to defend from trouble, harm, attack, etc
economics to assist (domestic industries) by the imposition of protective tariffs on imports
commerce to provide funds in advance to guarantee payment of (a note, draft, etc)

Word Origin for protect

C16: from Latin prōtegere to cover before, from pro- 1 + tegere to cover
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 protect

mid-15c., from Latin protectus, past participle of protegere "to protect, cover in front" (see protection). International economics sense from 1789. Related: Protected; protecting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper