[proh-tee-uh s, -tyoos]
- Classical Mythology. a sea god, son of Oceanus and Tethys, noted for his ability to assume different forms and to prophesy.
- a person or thing that readily changes appearance, character, principles, etc.
- 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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for proteus
However, the current thinking is that Merrick may have suffered from Proteus syndrome.The True Story of ‘The Elephant Man’
November 3, 2014
That all this is true to Shakespeare appears from the fact that it is false to the character of Proteus.The Man Shakespeare
And what see I on any side but the transmigrations of Proteus?Essays, First Series
Ralph Waldo Emerson
But the Sophist is the Proteus who takes the likeness of all of them; all other deceivers have a piece of him in them.Sophist
By Proteus, the old shepherd of the seals, you slumber uneasily.Thais
Proteus rescues her, and threatens to resume his suit with violence.William Shakespeare
- Greek myth a prophetic sea god capable of changing his shape at will
Word Origin and History for proteus
c.1400, from Greek Proteus (see Protean).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
- A genus of gram-negative, rod-shaped aerobic bacteria of the family Enterobacteriaceae that includes certain species associated with human enteritis and urinary tract infections.
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.