protean

adjective pro·te·an \ ˈprō-tē-ən , prō-ˈtē- \
Updated on: 10 Nov 2017

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

  1. a protean actor who is equally comfortable with light comedy and serious drama

Recent Examples of protean from the Web

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

1594

Other Mythology and Folklore Terms


PROTEAN Defined for English Language Learners

protean

adjective

Definition of protean for English Language Learners

  • : able to change into many different forms or able to do many different things


Medical Dictionary

1

protean

adjective pro·te·an \ ˈprōt-ē-ən, prō-ˈtē- \

medical Definition of protean

: displaying great diversity or variety
  • a disease with protean clinical manifestations

2

protean

noun pro·te·an \ ˈprōt-ē-ən \

medical Definition of protean

: any of various insoluble primary protein derivatives that result from a slight modification of the protein molecule especially by the action of water, very dilute acids, or enzymes

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