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 But if measures such as improving ventilation and dust control don’t get lead levels below the state limit, employees must be protected with respirators as well. Emily Alpert Reyes, Los Angeles Times, 16 Feb. 2024 They have been protected under the Endangered Species Act since 1970. Elizabeth Pritchett, Fox News, 16 Feb. 2024 This is definitely a long-term investment, so consider protecting your purchase with the corresponding outdoor furniture cover. Nor'adila Hepburn, Southern Living, 16 Feb. 2024 Liability Insurance: Consider obtaining professional liability insurance to protect against potential legal claims arising from the Trust Protector's actions. Matthew Erskine, Forbes, 16 Feb. 2024 Much of that criticism has focused on attacks on hospitals, mosques and schools, which are supposed to be protected under the laws of war. Vivian Yee, New York Times, 15 Feb. 2024 The six new flamingos will join the Seattle zoo’s Ambassador Animals program, providing visitors an up-close, educational experience about the importance of protecting the birds, Newberry said. Cathy Free, Washington Post, 15 Feb. 2024 Advertisement Times contributor Ryan Bradley compiled a list of 10 of the most beloved L.A. trees that Angelenos should enjoy — and protect at all costs. Kevinisha Walker, Los Angeles Times, 4 Feb. 2024 The ball is to be prized and protected at all times. Wally Hall,, 4 Feb. 2024 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 29 Feb. 2024.

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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