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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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web At the request of the families involved, some names in this essay have been changed to protect privacy. Brian_trapp, Longreads, "You Robbie, You Baka," 29 Apr. 2021 Noha Kassab, the owner of Kassab Jewelers, is in the process of filing a lawsuit against the City of Portland, alleging that the Portland Police Bureau and city politicians failed to protect downtown businesses during a May 30 riot last year. Jamie Goldberg, oregonlive, "Downtown Portland businesses reeling, again, after latest spate of vandalism," 29 Apr. 2021 If American alliances in the Middle East tell us anything, it’s that Washington will go to great lengths to protect overseas economic assets. Daniel Tenreiro, National Review, "TSMC: The World’s Most Important Company," 29 Apr. 2021 The shipment includes 440 oxygen cylinders and regulators donated by the state of California, 960,000 Rapid Diagnostic Tests and 100,000 N95 masks to protect India’s frontline healthcare heroes, U.S. Aid for International Development said. John Bacon, USA TODAY, "Moderna could make 1B doses this year; Biden mum on 4th stimulus check; US cruises could restart mid-July, CDC says: Live COVID-19 updates," 29 Apr. 2021 In the 1960s, county leaders designated areas for growth while trying to protect the rural character of portions of the county without water and sewer. Taylor Deville,, "Baltimore County wants to expand affordable housing. Advocates say they still face significant obstacles.," 29 Apr. 2021 Previously, the solution was to simply burn or throw away unsold deadstock to protect a brand’s image and price integrity. Sophie Mellor, Fortune, "Changing fashions: Retailers are dealing with deadstock more openly," 29 Apr. 2021 Within a few years, both in Maine and Massachusetts, float rope was replaced by sink rope to protect whales., "Meet the ‘rope broker’ who cleans up the Cape’s seafloor and supplies artists with the salvaged goods," 29 Apr. 2021 With Alaskan fisheries keeping limits on king crab harvests to protect their populations, and more new seafood restaurants opening all the time, the stage is set for others to creep in. Dennis Pillion |, al, "Crabs fell on Alabama: The new seafood shacks taking over the state," 29 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

1 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Protect.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 May. 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

Comments on protect

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