Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


verb pro·tect \prə-ˈtekt\

Simple Definition of protect

  • : to keep (someone or something) from being harmed, lost, etc.

  • : to save (someone) from financial loss caused by fire, injury, damage, etc.

  • sports : to try to stop opponents from scoring at (your goal)

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of protect

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to cover or shield from exposure, injury, damage, or destruction :  guard b :  defend 1c <protect the goal>

  3. 2 :  to maintain the status or integrity of especially through financial or legal guarantees: as a :  to save from contingent financial loss b :  to foster or shield from infringement or restriction <salesmen with protected territories> <protect one's rights>; specifically :  to restrict competition for (as domestic industries) by means of tariffs or trade controls

  4. 3 :  defend 5 <protect a lead>

  5. intransitive verb
  6. :  to provide a guard or shield <protects against tooth decay>


play \-ˈtek-tə-bəl\ adjective


play \-ˈtek-tiv\ adjective





Examples of protect in a sentence

  1. He had no raincoat to protect himself from the rain.

  2. She keeps her jewelry protected in a safe.

  3. You have to protect your business against fraud.

  4. New laws have been passed to protect your privacy.

  5. The forest is protected by federal law.

  6. The high taxes on imported goods are intended to protect domestic producers.

  7. Sunscreen helps to protect against sunburn.

  8. The insurance protects you against flooding.

  9. The insurance does not protect against damage caused by earthquakes.

Origin and Etymology of protect

Middle English, from Latin protectus, past participle of protegere, from pro- in front + tegere to cover — more at pro-, thatch

First Known Use: 15th century

Synonym Discussion of protect

defend, protect, shield, guard, safeguard mean to keep secure from danger or against attack. defend denotes warding off actual or threatened attack <defend the country>. protect implies the use of something (as a covering) as a bar to the admission or impact of what may attack or injure <a hard hat to protect your head>. shield suggests protective intervention in imminent danger or actual attack <shielded her eyes from the sun with her hand>. guard implies protecting with vigilance and force against expected danger <White House entrances are well guarded>. safeguard implies taking precautionary protective measures against merely possible danger <our civil liberties must be safeguarded>.

PROTECT Defined for Kids


verb pro·tect \prə-ˈtekt\

Definition of protect for Students



  1. :  keep from being harmed especially by covering or shielding :  guard

Law Dictionary


transitive verb pro·tect

Legal Definition of protect

  1. 1 :  to shield from injury or harm <protecting public health and safety>

  2. 2 :  to secure or preserve against encroachment, infringement, restriction, or violation :  maintain the status or integrity of especially through legal or constitutional guarantees <protect a work against copyright infringement> <the First Amendment protects speech>

  3. 3 :  to restrict competition for (as domestic industries) by means of tariffs or trade controls





Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up protect? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).