protocol

noun
pro·​to·​col | \ ˈprō-tə-ˌkȯl, -ˌkōl, -ˌkäl, -kəl\

Definition of protocol

1 : an original draft, minute, or record of a document or transaction
2a : a preliminary memorandum often formulated and signed by diplomatic negotiators as a basis for a final convention or treaty
b : the records or minutes of a diplomatic conference or congress that show officially the agreements arrived at by the negotiators
3a : a code prescribing strict adherence to correct etiquette and precedence (as in diplomatic exchange and in the military services) a breach of protocol
b : a set of conventions governing the treatment and especially the formatting of data in an electronic communications system network protocols
4 : a detailed plan of a scientific or medical experiment, treatment, or procedure

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Protocol and Politics

In Late Greek, the word prōtokollon referred to the first sheet of a papyrus roll bearing the date of its manufacture. In some instances, it consisted of a flyleaf that was glued to the outside of a manuscript's case and provided a description of its contents. Coming from the Greek prefix prōto- ("first") and the noun kolla ("glue"), prōtokollon gave us our word protocol. In its earliest uses in the 15th century, the word referred to a prologue or preface and also to a record of a document or transaction. In the late 19th century, it began to be used in reference to the etiquette observed by the Head of State of France in ceremonies and relations with other dignitaries. This sense has since extended in meaning to cover any code of proper conduct.

Examples of protocol in a Sentence

Typically, those who make pronouncements like this assume (without saying so) that the tongues making up the multitude will belong to persons who are committed to the protocols of rational inquiry; frivolous persons, persons who exploit those protocols or play with them to gain political ends, are not imagined. — Stanley Fish, Harper's, December 2005 Purcell even flouted the timeless protocol of pretending to admire the work of his fellow editors. — Tobias Wolff, Old School, 2003 Today, thanks to the civil-rights movement, white guilt is propriety—an utterly invisible code that defines decency in our culture with thousands of little protocols we no longer even think about. — Shelby Steele, Harper's, November 2002 The soldier's actions constitute a breach of military protocol. They did not follow the proper diplomatic protocols. What is the proper protocol for declining a job offer? the Geneva Protocol of 1925
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Recent Examples on the Web

Though Mulroney is free to overshare about herself on Instagram, Meghan is now subject to staid and stringent protocol. Michelle Ruiz, Marie Claire, "I Respect Jessica Mulroney's Hustle—and Her Loyalty to Meghan Markle," 18 Dec. 2018 However, the new superintendent has requested a review of all protocols and procedures including safety to ensure that all children are treated with dignity and respect. Caitlin Flynn, Teen Vogue, "Advocacy Group Says a Student Was Left in the Hallway During an Active Shooter Drill Because She's Transgender," 9 Oct. 2018 Meghan's wedding gown, according to royal protocol, couldn't come close to the price of Kate's out of respect to her position in line to the throne, and Eugenie's dress cost will likely follow suit. Carrie Goldberg, Harper's BAZAAR, "How Much Does Princess Eugenie's Wedding Dress Cost?," 8 Oct. 2018 From elaborate wedding dress codes to gift-giving protocols, there are a lot of rules for keeping up with the most polite of polite society. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "Prince Harry Sent Out the Sweetest Thank You Notes to His Birthday Well-Wishers," 4 Oct. 2018 Focused on their vision for aggressive rehabilitation through strength training and conditioning, ATI developed new and superior treatment protocols and techniques. The Aegis, "Upper Chesapeake Health to sponsor half marathon at inaugural Susquehanna Running Festival," 11 July 2018 The United States, however, has not ratified the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), to which the 2010 Nagoya Protocol is a supplementary agreement, and would not be bound by changes to the protocol. Kai Kupferschmidt, Science | AAAS, "Plan to amend biopiracy rules would ‘smother research,’ biologists warn," 3 July 2018 Woonsocket police and the state attorney general’s office will investigate the use of force according to standard protocol, said Oates. Jerome Campbell, BostonGlobe.com, "Man is in custody after Rhode Island police officer is shot in leg," 2 July 2018 Additionally, federal funding has helped address the many untested rape kits and create protocols and teams to investigate and prosecute rape cases more sensitively and aggressively. Ruth Padawer, New York Times, "Should Statutes of Limitations for Rape Be Abolished?," 19 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'protocol.' 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 protocol

1541, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for protocol

Middle French prothocole, from Medieval Latin protocollum, from Late Greek prōtokollon first sheet of a papyrus roll bearing date of manufacture, from Greek prōt- prot- + kollan to glue together, from kolla glue; perhaps akin to Middle Dutch helen to glue

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Last Updated

14 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for protocol

The first known use of protocol was in 1541

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More Definitions for protocol

protocol

noun

English Language Learners Definition of protocol

: a system of rules that explain the correct conduct and procedures to be followed in formal situations

: a plan for a scientific experiment or for medical treatment

: a document that describes the details of a treaty or formal agreement between countries

protocol

noun
pro·​to·​col | \ ˈprōt-ə-ˌkȯl, -ˌkōl, -ˌkäl \

Medical Definition of protocol

1 : an official account of a proceeding especially : the notes or records relating to a case, an experiment, or an autopsy
2 : a detailed plan of a scientific or medical experiment, treatment, or procedure cryotherapy was performed in approximately half of the eyes through a randomization protocolJournal of the American Medical Association

protocol

noun
pro·​to·​col | \ ˈprō-tə-ˌkȯl \

Legal Definition of protocol

1 : an original draft, minute, or record of a document or transaction
2a : a preliminary memorandum often formulated and signed by diplomatic negotiators as a basis for a final convention or treaty
b : the records or minutes of a diplomatic conference or congress that show officially the agreements arrived at by the negotiators

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More from Merriam-Webster on protocol

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with protocol

Spanish Central: Translation of protocol

Nglish: Translation of protocol for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of protocol for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about protocol

Comments on protocol

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