pro·tect | \ prə-ˈtekt \
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 \ adjective
protective \prə-ˈtek-tiv \ adjective
protectively adverb
protectiveness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for protect


bulwark, cover, defend, fence, fend, forfend, guard, keep, safeguard, screen, secure, shield, ward


assail, assault, attack

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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

Brady has been protected almost exclusively by Matt Light and Solder throughout his career. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, "Patriots training camp questions: Will rocky offseason carry over for AFC champions?," 13 July 2018 Township protects butterfly Springfield Township Supervisor Collin Walls didn't start out a butterfly advocate. Keith Matheny, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan's most endangered species nears extinction in Oakland County," 13 July 2018 It has also been involved in protecting public events like the Olympic Games in Greece in 2004, providing assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the U.S. in 2005, and helping Pakistan after a devastating earthquake in 2005. David Rising, Fox News, "A look at NATO and what the alliance does, past and present," 13 July 2018 The groups represent more than 2,200 volunteers protecting 55,700 buildings and 6,700 acres, using 70 defensible space projects, 93 drills and 324 training workshops. Rob Nikolewski,, "SDG&E awards $1M to groups fighting wildfires," 12 July 2018 One protected the cockpit while the other marshal worked to keep Olorunda calm. Char Adams,, "Washington Man Forced to Pay Delta Airlines and Faces Jail After Causing Emergency Landing," 12 July 2018 While the falcon was delisted by the federal government nearly 20 years ago, many states still protect it. Ula Chrobak, Outside Online, "We're Overprotecting Birds at the Expense of Climbers," 12 July 2018 As the University of Rhode Island’s Erik Loomis counsels, the only way to truly enforce such standards, as well as protect the human rights of workers, is to enable them to file trade disputes when a company breaks the rules. David Dayen, The New Republic, "The Inevitable Death of Global Trade As We Know It," 12 July 2018 The oil will protect your hair from the drying effects of shampoo. Ashley Weatherford, The Cut, "Everything You Need to Know About Putting Oils on Your Face," 12 July 2018

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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Learn More about protect

Phrases Related to protect

protect one's ass

protective custody

Statistics for protect

Last Updated

20 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for protect

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

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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 \
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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