[ proh-tee-uhs, -tyoos ]
See synonyms for Proteus on
  1. Classical Mythology. a sea god, son of Oceanus and Tethys, noted for his ability to assume different forms and to prophesy.

  2. a person or thing that readily changes appearance, character, principles, etc.

  1. plural pro·te·i [proh-tee-ahy]. /ˈproʊ tiˌaɪ/. (lowercase)Bacteriology. any of several rod-shaped, aerobic bacteria of the genus Proteus, sometimes found as pathogens in the gastrointestinal and genitourinary tracts of humans.

Words Nearby Proteus Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use Proteus in a sentence

  • When Aristus saw Proteus fast asleep, he stepped cautiously up to him and bound him with strong fetters.

  • Proteus is called the Carpathian wizard because his cave was on the island of Pharos, or Carpathos.

  • Suppose we take the act of Perigrinus Proteus burning himself at Olympia.

    The Aesthetical Essays | Friedrich Schiller

British Dictionary definitions for Proteus


/ (ˈprəʊtɪəs) /

  1. Greek myth a prophetic sea god capable of changing his shape at will

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 Proteus


[ (proh-tee-uhs, proh-tyoohs) ]

In classical mythology, a god who served Poseidon. Proteus could change his shape at will.

Notes for Proteus

Someone or something that easily takes on several different forms may be called “protean.”

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.