pro·​tho·​no·​ta·​ry prō-ˈthä-nə-ˌter-ē How to pronounce prothonotary (audio) ˌprō-thə-ˈnō-tə-rē How to pronounce prothonotary (audio)
variants or protonotary
prō-ˈtä-nə-ˌter-ē How to pronounce prothonotary (audio)
plural prothonotaries
: a chief clerk of any of various courts of law
prō-ˌthä-nə-ˈter-ē-əl How to pronounce prothonotary (audio)

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Blew is tasked with facilitating naturalization ceremonies in York County, Pennsylvania, as the county's prothonotary -- a clerk who handles civil matters. Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN, 4 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'prothonotary.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Middle English prothonotarie, from Late Latin protonotarius, from prot- + Latin notarius stenographer — more at notary public

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near prothonotary

Cite this Entry

“Prothonotary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Feb. 2023.

Legal Definition


plural prothonotaries
: a chief clerk of any of various courts of law
prothonotarial adjective

History and Etymology for prothonotary

Late Latin protonotarius, from proto- first in time + Latin notarius stenographer

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