pro·​tect | \ prə-ˈtekt How to pronounce protect (audio) \
protected; protecting; protects

Definition of protect

transitive verb

1a : to cover or shield from exposure, injury, damage, or destruction : guard
b : defend sense 1c protect the goal
2 : to maintain the status or integrity of especially through financial or legal guarantees: such 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 (something, such as a domestic industry) by means of tariffs or trade controls
3 : defend sense 5 protect a lead

intransitive verb

: to provide a guard or shield protects against tooth decay

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Other Words from protect

protectable \ prə-​ˈtek-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce protect (audio) \ adjective
protective \ prə-​ˈtek-​tiv How to pronounce protect (audio) \ adjective
protectively adverb
protectiveness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for protect



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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 (such 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

Examples of protect in a Sentence

He had no raincoat to protect himself from the rain. She keeps her jewelry protected in a safe. You have to protect your business against fraud. New laws have been passed to protect your privacy. The forest is protected by federal law. The high taxes on imported goods are intended to protect domestic producers. Sunscreen helps to protect against sunburn. The insurance protects you against flooding. The insurance does not protect against damage caused by earthquakes.
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Recent Examples on the Web Other studies have already shown COVID-19 vaccines to be safe and effective for pregnant and breastfeeding people, and that the antibodies transferred during pregnancy and lactation may protect babies. oregonlive, "OHSU study to look at COVID infection and vaccine during pregnancy and breastfeeding," 16 Apr. 2021 With their defenses down, many of these people can’t yet count on what the rest of us can: that the new shots will protect them from the coronavirus. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, "Some People’s Bodies Aren’t Set Up for Vaccines," 15 Apr. 2021 Every new American president is tested to determine whether the United States can still protect friends such as Europe, Japan, South Korea, and Israel. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "How to Start a War," 15 Apr. 2021 Nachlas said their largest donation went to Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse (AVDA) to build a permanent sunshade structure that will protect the skin of the residents of the facility. Gary Curreri,, "Sun safety focus of Run From The Rays event slated for April 25," 14 Apr. 2021 If the Biden administration doesn’t protect these workers, nobody will. Timothy Noah, The New Republic, "Is Biden Ditching His Promise to Protect Workers From Covid-19?," 14 Apr. 2021 Companies would not share such critical technology with competitors if the law didn’t protect their investments. Andrei Iancu, STAT, "No evidence that patents slow access to vaccines," 13 Apr. 2021 Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore said that officials would protect people’s right to peacefully protest. Leila Miller Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Protesters rally in downtown Sacramento over police killing of Daunte Wright," 13 Apr. 2021 Additionally, the Olympics Committee is considering investing in 30 vehicles to transport patients to the hotel that would protect drivers from the disease. Cailey Rizzo, Travel + Leisure, "Olympians Diagnosed With COVID-19 Will Reportedly Quarantine in Designated Tokyo Hotel," 13 Apr. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'protect.' 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 protect

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for protect

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

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Time Traveler for protect

Time Traveler

The first known use of protect was in the 15th century

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Statistics for protect

Last Updated

19 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Protect.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for protect



English Language Learners 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)


pro·​tect | \ prə-ˈtekt How to pronounce protect (audio) \
protected; protecting

Kids Definition of protect

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


transitive verb

Legal Definition of protect

1 : to shield from injury or harm protecting public health and safety
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 : to restrict competition for (as domestic industries) by means of tariffs or trade controls

Other Words from protect

protectable or protectible adjective

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Comments on protect

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