• synonyms


  1. having the quality or function of protecting: a protective covering.
  2. tending to protect.
  3. Economics. of, relating to, or designed to favor protectionism: protective tariffs.
  4. defensive(def 4).
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Origin of protective

First recorded in 1655–65; protect + -ive
Related formspro·tec·tive·ly, adverbpro·tec·tive·ness, nounnon·pro·tec·tive, adjectivenon·pro·tec·tive·ly, adverbsem·i·pro·tec·tive, adjectivesem·i·pro·tec·tive·ly, adverbun·pro·tec·tive, adjectiveun·pro·tec·tive·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for protectively

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • At the sight of Sophia, Riccardo rushed to her, looming over her protectively.

  • In short, they are protectively designed, while the first class are attractive.

  • He almost wanted to put his arm about the woman's shoulders, protectively.


    Milton Lesser

  • She tended him so protectively that one might have thought her loving.


    Frank Swinnerton

  • The large majority of monkeys are protectively coloured with some shade of brown or grey, with specially marked faces.

British Dictionary definitions for protectively


  1. giving or capable of giving protection
  2. economics of, relating to, or intended for protection of domestic industries
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  1. something that protects
  2. a condom
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Derived Formsprotectively, adverbprotectiveness, noun
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 protectively



1660s, from protect + -ive. As a noun from 1875. Related: Protectively; protectiveness. Protective custody is from 1933, translating German Schutzhaft, used cynically by the Nazis.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper