Etymology
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Words related to proto-

*per- (1)

Proto-Indo-European root forming prepositions, etc., meaning "forward," and, by extension, "in front of, before, first, chief, toward, near, against," etc.

It forms all or part of: afford; approach; appropriate; approve; approximate; barbican; before; deprive; expropriate; far; first; for; for-; fore; fore-; forefather; foremost; former (adj.); forth; frame; frau; fret; Freya; fro; froward; from; furnish; furniture; further; galore; hysteron-proteron; impervious; improbity; impromptu; improve; palfrey; par (prep.); para- (1) "alongside, beyond; altered; contrary; irregular, abnormal;" paradise; pardon; paramount; paramour; parvenu; pellucid; per; per-; percent; percussion; perennial; perestroika; perfect; perfidy; perform; perfume; perfunctory; perhaps; peri-; perish; perjury; permanent; permeate; permit; pernicious; perpendicular; perpetual; perplex; persecute; persevere; perspective; perspire; persuasion; pertain; peruse; pervade; pervert; pierce; portray; postprandial; prae-; Prakrit; pre-; premier; presbyter; Presbyterian; preterite; pride; priest; primal; primary; primate; primavera; prime; primeval; primitive; primo; primogenitor; primogeniture; primordial; primus; prince; principal; principle; prior; pristine; private; privilege; privy; pro (n.2) "a consideration or argument in favor;" pro-; probably; probe; probity; problem; proceed; proclaim; prodigal; produce; profane; profess; profile; profit; profound; profuse; project; promise; prompt; prone; proof; proper; property; propinquity; prophet; prose; prostate; prosthesis; protagonist; Protean; protect; protein; Proterozoic; protest; proto-; protocol; proton; protoplasm; Protozoa; proud; prove; proverb; provide; provoke; prow; prowess; proximate; Purana; purchase; purdah; reciprocal; rapprochement; reproach; reprove; veneer.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit pari "around, about, through," parah "farther, remote, ulterior," pura "formerly, before," pra- "before, forward, forth;" Avestan pairi- "around," paro "before;" Hittite para "outside of," Greek peri "around, about, near, beyond," pera "across, beyond," paros "before," para "from beside, beyond," pro "before;" Latin pro "before, for, on behalf of, instead of," porro "forward," prae "before," per "through;" Old Church Slavonic pra-dedu "great-grandfather;" Russian pere- "through;" Lithuanian per "through;" Old Irish ire "farther," roar "enough;" Gothic faura "before," Old English fore (prep.) "before, in front of," (adv.) "before, previously," fram "forward, from," feor "to a great distance, long ago;" German vor "before, in front of;" Old Irish air- Gothic fair-, German ver-, Old English fer-, intensive prefixes.

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Protean (adj.)

"of or pertaining to the Greek sea-god Proteus," 1590s, from Greek Prōteus, son of Oceanus and Tethys, who could change his form at will; hence, "readily assuming different shapes, exceedingly variable." His name is literally "first," from prōtos "first" (see proto-).

protein (n.)

1844, from French protéine, coined 1838 by Dutch chemist Gerhard Johan Mulder (1802-1880), perhaps on suggestion of Berzelius, from Greek prōteios "the first quality," from prōtos "first" (see proto-) + -ine (2).

Originally a theoretical substance thought to be a constituent of food essential to life, further studies of the substances he was working with overthrew this, but the words protein and proteid continued to be used in international work on the matter and also for other organic compounds; the modern use as a general name for a class of bodies arose in German. The confusion became so great a committee was set up in 1907 to sort out the nomenclature, which it did, giving protein its modern meaning ("class of organic compounds forming an important part of all living organisms") and banishing proteid.

prothonotary (n.)

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.

protist (adj.)

"of or pertaining to the Protista," one of the biological kingdoms proposed by Haeckel, including the Protozoa and Protophyta, the simplest animals and plants, 1869, from Modern Latin Protista (German Protisten, Haeckel, 1868), from Greek neuter plural of prōtistos "the very first," superlative of prōtos "first" (see proto-).

protocol (n.)

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."

proto-language (n.)

"a hypothetical extinct parent language from which existing languages have descended," 1948, from proto- + language.

proton (n.)

1920 in physics sense of "sub-atomic particle with a positive charge," coined by British physicist Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937) from noun use of Greek prōton, neuter of prōtos "first" (see proto-), on analogy of electron; supposedly because hydrogen (the nucleus of which, in its commonest form, consists of one proton) was hypothesized as a constituent of all the elements. The word was used earlier in embryology (1893) as a translation of German anlage ("fundamental thing") based on Aristotle's phrase he prote ousia to proton.

protoplanet (n.)

"large, diffuse cloud of matter in the orbit of a young star, regarded as the preliminary state of a planet," 1949, from proto- + planet.

protoplasm (n.)

"substance forming the essential stuff of the cells of plants and animals," 1848, from German Protoplasma (1846), used by German botanist Hugo von Mohl (1805-1872), on notion of "first-formed," from Greek prōtos "first" (see proto-) + plasma "something formed or molded" (see plasma).

The word was in Medieval Latin with a sense of "first created thing," and it might have existed in ecclesiastical Greek in a different sense. It was used 1839 by Czech physiologist Johannes Evangelista Purkinje (1787-1869) to denote the gelatinous fluid found in living tissue. The modern meaning is a refinement of this. This word prevailed, though German language purists preferred Urschleim. Related: Protoplasmal; protoplasmic.