mid-15c., prothogol, "prologue;" 1540s, prothogall, "draft of a document, minutes of a transaction or negotiation, original of any writing" (senses now obsolete), from French prothocole (c. 1200, Modern French protocole), from Medieval Latin protocollum "draft," literally "the first sheet of a volume" (on which contents and errata were written), from Greek prōtokollon "first sheet glued onto a manuscript," from prōtos "first" (see proto-) + kolla "glue," a word of uncertain origin.
The sense developed in Medieval Latin and French from "rough draft; original copy of a treaty, etc." to "official record of a transaction," to "diplomatic document" (especially one signed by friendly powers to secure certain ends by peaceful means), and finally, in French, to "formula of diplomatic etiquette." That final sense is attested in English by 1896.
The general sense of "conventional proper conduct" is recorded from 1952. "Protocols of the (Learned) Elders of Zion," Russian anti-Semitic forgery purporting to reveal Jewish plan for world domination, first was published in English 1920 under title "The Jewish Peril."
city in Switzerland, from Latin Genava, perhaps from a PIE root meaning "estuary" or one meaning "bend;" in either case a reference to its situation. From 1920 sometimes in reference to the city as the site of the headquarters of the League of Nations. The original Geneva Convention among Great Britain and the major continental powers to introduce humanitarian conduct in modern warfare (neutrality of hospitals, etc.) dates from 1864; the most recent update was in 1949. The Geneva Protocol is a League of Nations document meant to settle international disputes; it dates from 1924. Earlier the city was associated with Calvinism. Related: Genevan (1841); Genevian (1570s); Genevese (by 1660s); Genevois (1550s).
also protonotary (under which spelling it appears in OED print edition), mid-15c., "principal clerk of a court," from Medieval Latin prothonotarius, from a Late Latin borrowing of Greek prōtonotarios "first scribe," originally the recorder of the court of the Byzantine empire, from prōtos "first" (see proto-) + Latin notarius (see notary). Related: Prothonotarial.
The -h- appeared in Medieval Latin, perhaps because Greek prōto- sometimes became prōth- (before an aspirated vowel); it was carried into Old French, which passed it to Middle English. Other Middle English proto- words from French also had variants in protho- (prothomartir "earliest martyr," Protheus "the god Proteus," prothogol "protocol," all 15c.), but soon it was purged from the others; prothonotary kept its perhaps through the powerful and necessary conservatism of legal language.