Trending: protean

Lookups spiked 5,200% on June 26, 2020

Why are people looking up protean?

Protean swam to the top of our lookups on June 26th, 2020, after Dr. Anthony Fauci used the word to describe the coronavirus.

What does protean mean?

We define protean in two ways: “displaying great diversity or variety” and “of or resembling Proteus in having a varied nature or ability to assume different forms” (Proteus was a Greek sea god capable of assuming different forms). The word has been used in such manner since the end of the 16th century.


In her high deedes, through euery thing obscure
To full perfection; not the weake disioint
Of female humors; nor the Protean rages
Of pied fac'd fashion, that doth shrink and swell,
Working poore men like waxen images
And makes them apish strangers where they dwell
Ovids banquet of sence (trans.), 1595

Trend Watch is a data-driven report on words people are looking up at much higher search rates than normal. While most trends can be traced back to the news or popular culture, our focus is on the lookup data rather than the events themselves.

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