Definition of protean
1 : of or resembling Proteus in having a varied nature or ability to assume different forms
2 : displaying great diversity or variety : versatile
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Examples of protean in a Sentence
a protean actor who is equally comfortable with light comedy and serious drama
Recent Examples of protean from the Web
Those who follow Mr. Vongerichten know the chef to be a protean shape-shifter.
Less than a decade old, this protean object has become the universal, all-but-indispensable mediator of everyday life.
He was often treated as an outsider artist for his protean interests, which included Indonesian gamelans, Esperanto and microtones.
Performances and a traveling exhibit will focus on multiple aspects of his protean career.
This goofball band from Austin bangs out sweaty, protean rock; the lead singer, James Petralli, sounds, disarmingly, a bit like Stevie Wonder meets the Allman Brothers.
An esteemed soprano saxophonist and N.E.A. Jazz Master, Mr. Liebman, 70, has recently been working with Expansions, a spry, protean quintet.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'protean.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Did You Know?
Proteus was the original master of disguise. According to Greek mythology, the grizzled old shepherd of Poseidon's sea creatures possessed the gift of prophecy but didn't like to share his knowledge. Proteus would escape those who wanted to question him by changing his shape. The only way to get a straight answer from him was to sneak up behind him during his midday nap and hold onto him (while he frantically changed from shape to shape) until he eventually revealed what he knew. The adjective "protean" describes anyone or anything that is as mutable and adaptable as the mythological shepherd.
First Known Use of protean
PROTEAN Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of protean for English Language Learners
: able to change into many different forms or able to do many different things
Medical Definition of protean
: displaying great diversity or variety a disease with protean clinical manifestations
Learn More about protean
Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for protean
Seen and Heard
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