[ proh-tuh-kawl, -kol, -kohl ]
See synonyms for: protocolprotocols on

  1. the customs and regulations dealing with diplomatic formality, precedence, and etiquette.

  2. an original draft, minute, or record from which a document, especially a treaty, is prepared.

  1. a supplementary international agreement.

  2. an agreement between states.

  3. an annex to a treaty giving data relating to it.

  4. Medicine/Medical. the plan for carrying out a scientific study or a patient's treatment regimen.

  5. Computers. a set of rules governing the format of messages that are exchanged between computers.

  6. Also called protocol statement, protocol sentence, protocol proposition. Philosophy. a statement reporting an observation or experience in the most fundamental terms without interpretation: sometimes taken as the basis of empirical verification, as of scientific laws.

verb (used without object)
  1. to draft or issue a protocol.

Origin of protocol

First recorded in 1535–45; earlier protocoll, from Medieval Latin prōtocollum, from Late Greek prōtókollon originally, “a leaf or tag attached to a rolled papyrus manuscript and containing notes as to contents.” See proto-, colloid

word story For protocol

Protocol ultimately comes from Late Greek prōtókollon, a compound noun meaning “the first kóllēma (sheet) on a papyrus roll,” formed from prōto-, a combining form of prôtos “first” (and completely naturalized in English) and the noun kóllēma “something bound or glued together” (the plural kollēmata means “sheets of papyrus glued together to form a roll,” usually 20 sheets, averaging 20–26 feet in length). Prōtókollon is first recorded in the Novels, one of the four divisions of the Corpus Juris Civilis, compiled by order of the emperor Justinian (a.d. 483–565), the last native Latin-speaking emperor. A prōtókollon protected the outside of a rolled-up scroll (and therefore was sometimes reinforced with parchment). The protocol was the equivalent of the modern copyright page and table of contents, bearing official authentication, date of manufacture, author, and contents.
In Medieval Latin prōtocollum acquired the meaning “draft (of a document), minutes (of a meeting), public register, a document bearing an official seal.” By the middle of the 19th century, French developed the sense “official norms of behavior or etiquette to be maintained between states and their ministers; the accepted and customary codes of behavior in polite society.” In late 19th-century Russia, protocol ( protokól ) meant “an official police record of a case or incident,” its meaning in the infamous “Protocols [ protokóly ] of the Elders of Zion,” first published in Russia in 1903.

Other words from protocol

  • pro·to·col·ar [proh-tuh-kol-er], /ˌproʊ təˈkɒl ər/, pro·to·col·a·ry, pro·to·col·ic, adjective

Words Nearby protocol Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use protocol in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for protocol


/ (ˈprəʊtəˌkɒl) /

  1. the formal etiquette and code of behaviour, precedence, and procedure for state and diplomatic ceremonies

  2. a memorandum or record of an agreement, esp one reached in international negotiations, a meeting, etc

  1. (chiefly US)

    • a record of data or observations on a particular experiment or proceeding

    • an annexe appended to a treaty to deal with subsidiary matters or to render the treaty more lucid

    • a formal international agreement or understanding on some matter

  2. an amendment to a treaty or convention

  3. philosophy a statement that is immediately verifiable by experience: In full: protocol statement See logical positivism

  4. computing the set form in which data must be presented for handling by a particular computer configuration, esp in the transmission of information between different computer systems

Origin of protocol

C16: from Medieval Latin prōtocollum, from Late Greek prōtokollon sheet glued to the front of a manuscript, from proto- + kolla glue

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

Scientific definitions for protocol


[ prōtə-kôl′, -kōl′ ]

  1. The plan for a course of medical treatment or for a scientific experiment.

  2. A set of standardized procedures for transmitting or storing data, especially those used in regulating data transmission between computers or peripherals.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.