protocol

noun
pro·​to·​col | \ ˈprō-tə-ˌkȯl How to pronounce protocol (audio) , -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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

During the trial, several founders of No More Deaths testified to their efforts to develop legal and medical protocols for the group's work, based on those of other humanitarian aid groups such as the International Red Cross. Bob Ortega, CNN, "No verdict in controversial border aid case," 11 June 2019 Lipset recalls a protocol for a trial in atopic dermatitis, a form of eczema, that would have required participants to stop using all their usual medications for six weeks to clear their system of drugs. Heidi Ledford, Scientific American, "A Question of Control," 16 May 2019 Tesla hints at this with its software update, which consists of changes to the battery charge and thermal management protocols for the Model S and X (the Model 3's newer battery doesn't require the changes, apparently). Alexander Stoklosa, Car and Driver, "Tesla Fires Spur Software Update, but Here's Why You Needn't Panic," 16 May 2019 The Duke and Duchess supposedly wish to enjoy these early days with their newborn son in as much privacy as possible, which has certainly not been standard protocol for the royal family in, well, centuries. Ann Lien, House Beautiful, "Baby Sussex Is About to Have Some Seriously VIP Visitors," 7 May 2019 The bill would authorize government inspections of facilities where products are made, require accurate and detailed ingredient lists on products, and create a protocol for recalling products if they are found to be harmful or hazardous. Ivana Rihter, Vogue, "Are Your Beauty Products Toxic? A New Senate Bill Aims to Tackle Unregulated Ingredients," 9 Mar. 2019 There’s an official protocol for the disposal of unused drugs at the end of an operation. Kayla Webley Adler, Marie Claire, "I Was One Of The Top Doctors In My Field. I Was Also An Opioid Addict.," 25 Feb. 2019 Commissioner James O’Neill responded to the report by sending a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio and other city officials defending the NYPD’s training on the new protocols for interacting with the transgender community. Zolan Kanno-youngs, WSJ, "Transgender Woman Says NYPD Falsely Accused Her of Misrepresenting Herself," 22 Jan. 2019 The Gatwick drone episode proved confounding for a number of reasons, largely because authorities had no specific protocol for dealing with the UAV in such a sensitive environment. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "Another Drone Sighting Shuts Down the UK's Busiest Airport," 8 Jan. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about protocol

Listen to Our Podcast about protocol

Statistics for protocol

Last Updated

17 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for protocol

The first known use of protocol was in 1541

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

protocol

noun
pro·​to·​col | \ ˈprōt-ə-ˌkȯl, -ˌkōl, -ˌkäl How to pronounce protocol (audio) \

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 How to pronounce protocol (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on protocol

What made you want to look up protocol? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

showing courage and determination

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!