意为“不赞成的声明”, 到1751年就有记载. 到19世纪末, 多限于“针对某种行为或行动过程的庄严或正式声明”.
形容词意义上的“表达对现行社会, 政治或文化习俗的异议或拒绝”, 到1942年, 是指美国民权运动(在 protest march); protest rally 从1960年开始, “为表示对候选人的选择或现行制度的不满而投的票”. Protest vote, “为表示对候选人的选择或现行制度的不满而投下的票”, 到1905年(指社会党候选人).
Because they now fully understood the power of the picket line, they were ready and anxious to march on Washington when A. Philip Randolph, president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, advanced the idea in January 1941 of organizing a Negro protest march on Washington, because Government officials from the President down to minor bureau chiefs, had persistently evaded the issue of combating discrimination in defense industries as well as the Government itself. As the time for the event drew nearer some of the heads of the Government became alarmed; Randolph reported that a ranking New Dealer had told him many Government officials were asking, “What will they think in Berlin?” [Statement of Edgar G. Brown, Revenue Revision of 1942 hearings, 77th Congress, 2nd session]
15世纪中叶, protesten, “正式或庄严地宣布或声明, 作证或见证”, 来自古法语 protester, 直接来自拉丁语 protestari “公开宣布, 作证, 抗议” (见 protest (n.) ). 原义保留在 to protest one's innocence. 意思是“对提议或完成的某一行为或措施作出庄严或正式的声明(通常是书面声明), 谴责该行为或措施”, 来自17世纪. 该词与游行和集会的联系出现在20世纪相关: Protested; protesting.