Attested in English since 1530, from Latin prōtēctus (covered, protected), past participle of prōtegere (to cover the front, protect) from prō, prō- (before, in front of) +‎ tegere (to cover), see tegument. Displaced native Middle English helien, forhelien (to conceal, protect) [from Old Saxon helian, forhelian (to conceal, cover, hide), Old English hælan (to heal)]; bischilden, beschielden (to protect) [from Middle English schild, shelde (shield)]; berwen, bergen (to protect, preserve) [from Old English beorgan (to protect, preserve)]; and mundien, mounden (to protect) [from Old English mundian (to protect, watch over, act as guardian over)].


  • IPA(key): /pɹəˈtɛkt/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛkt


protect (third-person singular simple present protects, present participle protecting, simple past and past participle protected)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To keep safe; to defend; to guard; to prevent harm coming to.
    to protect a child from danger
    This antivirus package will protect your computer from hackers.
    Condoms are designed to protect against sexually-transmitted diseases.
    • 2012 March 1, William E. Carter, Merri Sue Carter, “The British Longitude Act Reconsidered”, in American Scientist[1], volume 100, number 2, page 87:
      But was it responsible governance to pass the Longitude Act without other efforts to protect British seamen? Or might it have been subterfuge—a disingenuous attempt to shift attention away from the realities of their life at sea.
  2. (travel, aviation) To book a passenger on a later flight if there is a chance they will not be able to board their earlier reserved flight.


Derived termsEdit