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

transitive verb

: to cover or shield from exposure, injury, damage, or destruction : guard
: defend sense 1c
protect the goal
: to maintain the status or integrity of especially through financial or legal guarantees: such as
: to save from contingent financial loss
: 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
: defend sense 5
protect a lead

intransitive verb

: to provide a guard or shield
protects against tooth decay
protectable adjective
protective adjective
protectively adverb
protectiveness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for 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 (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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Pinterest also got credit for banning the monetization of climate misinformation and for trying to protect the personal data of people who protest against fossil fuels. David Ingram, NBC News, 20 Sep. 2023 The spacious carrier comes with several straps to secure items in place, helping to protect our camping gear and equipment. Kevin Brouillard, Travel + Leisure, 20 Sep. 2023 Armenia’s Security Council Secretary Armen Grigoryan accused Russian peacekeepers of failing to protect Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijani aggression, according to state media Armenpress. Clare Sebastian, CNN, 20 Sep. 2023 Virginia Beach high schoolers have spoken at every school board meeting for a year, begging members to protect their LGBTQ peers VIRGINIA BEACH — Emily LaBar arrived at the school board meeting early with a small box of safety pins. Karina Elwood, Washington Post, 20 Sep. 2023 Ukrainian officials have also emphasized the need for more air defenses to help protect the front lines as well as Ukraine’s urban areas. Mathias Hammer, Time, 20 Sep. 2023 While running, pull your shirt up over your head or use your arms to protect your face. Aliza Chasan, CBS News, 20 Sep. 2023 Aisha Francis, president and CEO of Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology, said Tuesday that the diversity of institutions in New England is important, and worth protecting. Globe Staff,, 19 Sep. 2023 This can help to avoid flash flooding during heavy rains and protect against drought. Maria Paula Escobar-Tello, WIRED, 13 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'protect.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

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

Dictionary Entries Near protect

Cite this Entry

“Protect.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


pro·​tect prə-ˈtekt How to pronounce protect (audio)
: to cover or shield from something that would destroy or injure : guard

Legal Definition


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

More from Merriam-Webster on protect

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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