Definition of protean in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈprəʊtɪən/
Pronunciation: /prəʊˈtiːən/


1Tending or able to change frequently or easily: it is difficult to comprehend the whole of this protean subject
More example sentences
  • They begin by turning the motion on its head, asserting that a reactive foreign policy dangerously ignores the reality of a post cold war world in which the lines of conflict have become protean and subject to unpredictable change.
  • He never lets his learning cloud his enthusiasm for this wide and protean subject and his writing shares the awe of the poets who preceded him on this journey.
  • This is not an easy task, not least because the distance on their subjects that historians value is not realizable when examining a subject as protean as globalization, and one that is both now expressing itself and still changing.
ever-changing, variable, changeable, mutable, kaleidoscopic, erratic, quicksilver, inconstant, inconsistent, unstable, unsteady, shifting, uneven, unsettled, fluctuating, chameleon-like, chameleonic;
fluid, wavering, vacillating, mercurial, volatile, unpredictable, wayward, unreliable, undependable
technical labile
rare stayless, changeful
1.1Able to do many different things; versatile: protean thinkers who scan the horizons of work and society
More example sentences
  • Born in 1948, he remains for many the heir to Gabin and Belmondo, a versatile, protean actor whose rugged looks are belied by his sensitivity and talent.
  • His protean ability to assume different roles in his poems is often described as theatrical.
  • Augustine is a protean thinker, a man whose major works range so widely as to defy the summary and commentary we can present for Athanasius.
versatile, adaptable, flexible, all-round, multifaceted, multitalented, many-sided, resourceful, malleable


Late 16th century: from Proteus + -an.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: pro|tean

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