[ proh-toh-his-tuh-ree, -his-tree ]
/ ˌproʊ toʊˈhɪs tə ri, -ˈhɪs tri /

noun, plural pro·to·his·to·ries.

a branch of study concerned with the transition period between prehistory and the earliest recorded history.
the period in a culture immediately before its recorded history begins.


Origin of protohistory

First recorded in 1915–20; proto- + history

Related forms

pro·to·his·to·ri·an [proh-toh-hi-stawr-ee-uh n, -stohr-] /ˌproʊ toʊ hɪˈstɔr i ən, -ˈstoʊr-/, nounpro·to·his·tor·ic [proh-toh-hi-stawr-ik, -stor-] /ˌproʊ toʊ hɪˈstɔr ɪk, -ˈstɒr-/, pro·to·his·tor·i·cal, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for protohistory


/ (ˌprəʊtəʊˈhɪstərɪ, -ˈhɪstrɪ) /


the period or stage of human development or of a particular culture immediately prior to the emergence of writing

Derived Forms

protohistoric (ˌprəʊtəʊhɪˈstɒrɪk), adjective
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