Definition of protocol in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈprōdəˌkôl/
Pronunciation: /ˈprōdəˌkäl/


1The official procedure or system of rules governing affairs of state or diplomatic occasions: protocol forbids the prince from making any public statement in his defense
More example sentences
  • At the end of the day, every one knows that this is still a diplomatic affair, where protocol and ethics must be observed, and cordiality must always be extended.
  • So how could he make a preference known without breaching diplomatic protocol?
  • It seems that beside teaching new government leaders protocol, they certainly need lessons in public speaking.
1.1The accepted or established code of procedure or behavior in any group, organization, or situation: what is the protocol at a conference if one’s neighbor dozes off during the speeches?
More example sentences
  • In this particular instance, a temp employee made a mistake and did not follow our established protocol, and we regret any inconvenience this may have caused.
  • But museum bosses have now decided to eschew accepted protocol because they believe museum visitors should have the opportunity to join the discussion about whether mummies should be shown.
  • He said he obviously went against established protocol.
etiquette, conventions, formalities, customs, rules of conduct, procedure, ritual, accepted behavior, propriety, proprieties, one's Ps and Qs, decorum, good form, the done thing, the thing to do, punctilio
1.2 Computing A set of rules governing the exchange or transmission of data between devices.
Example sentences
  • Internet mail protocols - the technical rules that govern how messages are transmitted - need revamping.
  • Typically, a firewall lets HTTP requests pass through - HTTP being the standard protocol for transmitting webpages.
  • Using ubiquitous internet protocols like XML and HTTP, web services allow the sharing of data or logic over the network and even through firewalls.
2The original draft of a diplomatic document, especially of the terms of a treaty agreed to in conference and signed by the parties.
Example sentences
  • Why did New Zealand sign and ratify a protocol that has already agreed to set rules for liability and redress for damage, if it now intends to undermine the treaty by suggesting that rules on liability may not be necessary?
  • According to the report, the ministries of external affairs, finance, labour and commerce have already agreed on the draft agreement on the protocol to be signed with the US.
  • The Netherlands is very serious, as is Europe, about this issue, and I believe that the Russians will sign the protocol - but let us wait and see.
agreement, treaty, entente, concordat, convention, deal, pact, contract, compact
formal concord
2.1An amendment or addition to a treaty or convention: a protocol to the treaty allowed for this Danish referendum
More example sentences
  • In addition there were various protocols to the Treaty and declarations adopted by the Member States.
  • Moreover, new treaties, protocols, or amendments thereto will normally require positive ratification to enter into force.
  • Essentially every country in the world has ratified these treaties, bar three; also Australia has ratified the two additional protocols to the Geneva Conventions.
3A formal or official record of scientific experimental observations.
Example sentences
  • The final interview included verification of previous interview and observation protocols and validation of the description that had been developed.
  • Theories, case studies, empirical studies, therapy session transcripts and treatment protocols are generously offered throughout this work.
3.1A procedure for carrying out a scientific experiment or a course of medical treatment.
Example sentences
  • The study protocol was approved by the University Hospital Medical Ethics Committee, and written informed consent was obtained from all participants.
  • In one study there was no indication as to the protocol for intubation and treatment failure.
  • The medical center's institutional review board approved the study protocol.


Late Middle English (denoting the original record of an agreement, forming the legal authority for future dealings relating to it): from Old French prothocole, via medieval Latin from Greek prōtokollon 'first page, flyleaf', from prōtos 'first' + kolla 'glue'. Sense 1 derives from French protocole, the collection of set forms of etiquette to be observed by the French head of state, and the name of the government department responsible for this (in the 19th century).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: pro·to·col

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.