protagonist

noun
pro·​tag·​o·​nist | \ prō-ˈta-gə-nist How to pronounce protagonist (audio) \

Definition of protagonist

1a(1) : the principal character in a literary work (such as a drama or story)
(2) : the leading actor or principal character in a television show, movie, book, etc.
b : an active participant in an event
2 : a leader, proponent, or supporter of a cause : champion

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Did You Know?

Struggle, or conflict, is central to drama. The protagonist or hero of a play, novel, or film is involved in a struggle of some kind, either against someone or something else or even against his or her own emotions. So the hero is the "first struggler", which is the literal meaning of the Greek word prōtagōnistēs. A character who opposes the hero is the antagonist, from a Greek verb that means literally "to struggle against".

Examples of protagonist in a Sentence

Badlands has two protagonists and Days of Heaven four (though both movies are rich in colorful minor roles). — Richard Alleva, Commonweal, 12 Mar. 1999 The protagonists of Gordon's fiction are children who have been saddled with their parents' emotional bad debts. — Judith Thurman, New Yorker, 12 Mar. 1990 The most adamant opposition to my argument is likely to come from protagonists of secular reason … — Glenn Finder, Atlantic, December 1989 She was a leading protagonist in the civil rights movement. Milton Friedman is usually cited as the leading American protagonist of monetarism.
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Recent Examples on the Web

That's so incredible to see from a female protagonist. Susan X Jane, Glamour, "In Us, Lupita Nyong’o Is the Horror Heroine We’ve Been Waiting For," 22 Mar. 2019 Also, having a franchise with a female protagonist driving it is such a rare opportunity. Jennifer Earl, Fox News, "Scarlett Johansson drops transgender role after backlash: report," 13 July 2018 Not as cool as the original, of course, but another chance to visit with Billy Crystal and John Goodman in particularly endearing roles. 13. 'Brave' (2012) Pixar finally gets a female protagonist. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "We rank Pixar's animated movies, from worst to best," 14 June 2018 India has also seen its fair share of controversy over films with strong female protagonists and tackling unconventional storylines. Nyay Bhushan, The Hollywood Reporter, "Pakistan Bans Bollywood Female Comedy," 31 May 2018 Everyone's life gets worse as Sabrina's fate becomes fodder for conspiracy theorists, who bully and threaten all three protagonists. Mark Peters, Chicago Reader, "Nick Drnaso’s second graphic novel, Sabrina, examines the perils of living too long in your own head," 22 May 2018 In 2017, female protagonists wielded swords, lightsabers and big books. Karla Peterson, sandiegouniontribune.com, "From 'Black Panther' to 'Star Wars,' moviegoers are getting the heroines we deserve," 23 Feb. 2018 At every turn, the game seems to beg you to slow down and simply live as outlaw protagonist Arthur Morgan. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Ars Technica’s best games of 2018," 24 Dec. 2018 Horror protagonists are often unlikeable, at least in the kinds of stories where viewers are meant to find their deaths more exciting than tragic. Samantha Nelson, The Verge, "YouTube’s tech-noir series Origin is Lost… in space," 14 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'protagonist.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of protagonist

1671, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for protagonist

Greek prōtagōnistēs, from prōt- prot- + agōnistēs competitor at games, actor, from agōnizesthai to compete, from agōn contest, competition at games — more at agony

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Statistics for protagonist

Last Updated

7 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for protagonist

The first known use of protagonist was in 1671

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More Definitions for protagonist

protagonist

noun

English Language Learners Definition of protagonist

: the main character in a novel, play, movie, etc.
: an important person who is involved in a competition, conflict, or cause

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Comments on protagonist

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