[proh-tuh-kawl, -kol, -kohl]
See more synonyms for protocol 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.
  3. a supplementary international agreement.
  4. an agreement between states.
  5. an annex to a treaty giving data relating to it.
  6. Medicine/Medical. the plan for carrying out a scientific study or a patient's treatment regimen.
  7. Computers. a set of rules governing the format of messages that are exchanged between computers.
  8. 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

1535–45; earlier protocoll < Medieval Latin prōtocollum < Late Greek prōtókollon orig., a leaf or tag attached to a rolled papyrus manuscript and containing notes as to contents. See proto-, colloid
Related formspro·to·col·ar [proh-tuh-kol-er] /ˌproʊ təˈkɒl ər/, pro·to·col·a·ry, pro·to·col·ic, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for protocols

Contemporary Examples of protocols

Historical Examples of protocols

British Dictionary definitions for protocols


  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
  3. (chiefly US)
    1. a record of data or observations on a particular experiment or proceeding
    2. an annexe appended to a treaty to deal with subsidiary matters or to render the treaty more lucid
    3. a formal international agreement or understanding on some matter
  4. an amendment to a treaty or convention
  5. philosophy a statement that is immediately verifiable by experienceIn full: protocol statement See logical positivism
  6. 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

Word Origin for 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

Word Origin and History for protocols



1540s, as prothogall "draft of a document," from Middle French prothocole (c.1200, Modern French protocole), from Medieval Latin protocollum "draft," literally "the first sheet of a volume" (on which contents and errata were written), from Greek protokollon "first sheet glued onto a manuscript," from protos "first" (see proto-) + kolla "glue."

Sense developed in Medieval Latin and French from "official account" to "official record of a transaction," to "diplomatic document," and finally, in French, to "formula of diplomatic etiquette." Meaning "diplomatic rules of etiquette" in English first recorded 1896, from French; general sense of "conventional proper conduct" is from 1952. "Protocols of the (Learned) Elders of Zion," Russian anti-Semitic forgery purporting to reveal Jewish plan for world domination, first published in English 1920 under title "The Jewish Peril."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

protocols in Medicine


[prōtə-kôl′, -kōl′]
  1. The plan for a course of medical treatment or for a scientific experiment.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

protocols in Science


[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.

protocols in Culture


Agreed-upon standards and practices in technology (particularly information technology) that allow systems manufactured by many different companies to be compatible with each other and work within common larger systems. Protocols are established by industry trade groups, governments, or some combination thereof.

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.