protocol

noun

pro·​to·​col ˈprō-tə-ˌkȯl How to pronounce protocol (audio)
-ˌkōl,
-ˌkäl,
-kəl
1
: an original draft, minute, or record of a document or transaction
2
a
: 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
3
a
: 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
Recent Examples on the Web Though a small percentage of clients buy a car in a standard off-the-rack spec, most take advantage of the program, coming to the automaker’s headquarters in Molsheim to engage with the protocol. Brett Berk, Robb Report, 5 Apr. 2024 The order also calls for repealing the state’s lethal injection protocol and the immediate closing of the execution chamber at San Quentin State Prison. John Woolfolk, The Mercury News, 4 Apr. 2024 Typically, those who respect the protocol of not viewing eclipses request that others be mindful of them and other Navajos before posting eclipse photos. The Arizona Republic, 4 Apr. 2024 In a news release, Cal-Maine Foods said production at the Panhandle facility stopped temporarily, following protocols to prevent bird flu that are set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Eduardo Cuevas, USA TODAY, 3 Apr. 2024 Germany’s own federal health minister broke with usual protocol by openly criticizing the DFB for its decision to end the longstanding association in favor of its U.S. archrival. Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, 2 Apr. 2024 Advertisers and influencers are eager to get your eyeballs on a product, protocol or procedure. Andrea Kane, CNN, 30 Mar. 2024 Establishing eco-overlays over their development paradigms requires clear governance protocols that spell out the eco-sustainability principles, methodologies and benchmarks to which AI development must conform, especially to GenAI technologies. Nicola Sfondrini, Forbes, 28 Mar. 2024 Many say that would mean prescribing only the second drug in the protocol, misoprostol, which is used to induce labor as well as for pregnancy termination. Sonja Sharp, Los Angeles Times, 28 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'protocol.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

1541, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of protocol was in 1541

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Dictionary Entries Near protocol

Cite this Entry

“Protocol.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/protocol. Accessed 13 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

protocol

noun
pro·​to·​col ˈprōt-ə-ˌkȯl How to pronounce protocol (audio)
1
: an original copy or record of a document
2
: a code of diplomatic or military rules of behavior
3
: a set of rules for the formatting of data in an electronic communications system
network protocols

Medical Definition

protocol

noun
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

Legal Definition

protocol

noun
pro·​to·​col ˈprō-tə-ˌkȯl How to pronounce protocol (audio)
1
: an original draft, minute, or record of a document or transaction
2
a
: 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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